Mass Gathering of Santa's Descends on Cities Across the Country

Thousands of revelers dressed as their favorite Christmas character, jolly ol' St. Nick, gathered on Saturday in cities across the country to spread some holiday cheer.

The tradition, started in San Francisco in 1994, is called SantaCon. A website for the nationwide event organizes holiday fun-seekers to gather en masse dressed as Santa's.

And that they did. Cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and other across the nation saw their Santa population skyrocket today. Various interpretations of Santa Claus were spotted running around the streets as Mrs.Claus, reindeer, and some even wrapped as presents.

The website described the event "for adults - where guys and girls of legal age dress up like Santa and go cavorting around town for no better reason than that it's huge fun."

One white-bearded participant in NYC described the day as "a holiday celebration that is part New Years Eve, part Halloween, part St. Patty's day."  He added, "Throw on a costume and spread the cheer. Ho ho ho."

Here's how it is organized: The night before the event you click on your city to find out where fellow Santa's will gather in your area.  Most cities request that you bring can goods to the meeting location, which will be donated to a food drive. The gatherings are loosely organized and usually flow and ebb like a flash mob.

The Santacon website outlines the various Santa happenings around the world and lists guidelines of the day that include: Santa does not make children cry; Santa dresses for all occasions; and Santa always brings gifts.

In New York City, the NYC Santacon website notes that the event is a not-for-profit, non-political, non-religious and non-logical Santa Claus convention, attended for absolutely no reason.

The site stresses that SantaCon is a convention, not a bar-crawl, though bars will be visited.

The New York Post reported that one Santa group placed an ad on Craigslist looking for elves, saying they would like to have one or many midgets or really short people dressed as elves hang out with them. "Compensation: Drinks on us."

The Los Angeles SantaCon started at 11 a.m.and Philadelphia's is set to start at 4 p.m.

The Washington D.C. festivities started at noon on the steps of the National Museum of Natural History. The official Web site warns that there will also be protesters on the National Mall Saturday, but the celebration will not be participating, as Santa is not political.

Tis the season to be jolly.'s Meghan Baker contributed to this report.