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SantaCon announces ‘major changes’ in event format due to protests

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NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) -- SantaCon organizers announced major changes in the format of this year's event Thursday afternoon.

In a statement on their website, organizers said they are scaling back on SantaCon festivities due to planned protests in the area. The changes were made "in order to create the lowest possible impact on the city we love, while still maintaining our glorious traditions this holiday season," according to their website.

"SantaCon has respect and compassion for the hard-working municipal organizations of NYC, as well as the important civil rights demonstrations currently shaping our city's future," organizers said alluding to recent protests in response to the Eric Garner case.

The statement comes hours before SantaCon is expected to announce participating bars and venues. Organizers of the event made it clear on their website to stay indoors.

"If a venue isn't on this list, it's because they don't want you there. Please move around throughout the day from venue to venue but spend most of your time inside, not on the streets."

Organizers recently enlisted civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel to represent them. Siegel said Santas have a right to express themselves in public as long as they aren’t breaking the law.