New York City

New York City SantaCon Retains Civil Rights Lawyer

Organizers of the SantaCon bar crawl say they have retained a famous civil rights lawyer and are looking to transform the festive bar crawl's image amid growing opposition from New York City neighborhoods.

Attorney Norman Siegel says the Santa-clad participants have a right to express themselves as long as they don't break the law. He told NBC 4 New York that he would be on hand to see that police allow the jolly revelers into bars and will document any incidents for potential legal action. 

Event organizers said they're also looking into transitioning the bar crawl into a parade or festival in future years. They cited the transformation of the West Village's Halloween parade, which transformed from a informal street party to a yearly parade in the 1980s.

"Santa and the Elves are working closely with city officials, the Parks Department and NYPD on better formats to manage the event while growing it as a much beloved annual tradition for the city," organizers said. 

The event, which draws thousands of revelers each year, has been criticized by some for being too rowdy.

Some community boards have banned the event from their neighborhoods, and several bars announced before last year's event that red-suited patrons wouldn't be allowed inside.

SantaCon is set for Saturday. Its location will be announced Friday.

NJ Transit, LIRR and Metro-North are banning alcohol on trains during the bar crawl, as the commuter rail lines have done in previous years.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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