Santas flood the city despite backlash

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MANHATTAN (PIX11) — The calm before the Santa storm is sweeping across midtown, where bars signed up to participate in the annual pub crawl.

After several years of arrests and drunken debauchery, this year's SantaCon promised to be more nice than naughty. Police, who were busy with Millions March NYC, said there were no SantaCon-related arrests.

Thousands of Santas started their morning in Times Square and this year's event kicked off with a little lesson in the first amendment. Organizers this year made an effort to ring in the rowdiness, and brought in civil rights attorney Norman Siegel.

"If you don't like somebody's viewpoint or their dress or how they're expressing themselves, then you have a right to say that," Siegel said. "Yet at the same token, the government can't be calling bars and telling the bars that they can't allow SantaCon to come in. That's a no-no."

Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North did not allow riders to drink alcohol on the trains, but that didn't necessarily stop some revelers.

"It was really crowded so the cops weren't able to walk up and down the aisles, so they kind of got away with it," said SantaCon commuter Sean Booth.

Revelers defended the yearly tradition.

"It doesn't have to be this thing where you go and get super drunk and crazy," said SantaCon participant Lara Nixon. "It's just a fun way to celebrate the holidays."

SantaCon also mixed with the Millions March NYC, which brought tens of thousands of people to the city streets to protest deaths at the hands of police violence.