No Sleigh Required

Running of the Santas hits the Warehouse District

There’s a lot to be said for subtlety. Don’t expect to see much of it on Saturday, Dec. 17 though, as thousands of Santas and holiday-costumed folks make their annual Running of the Santas through downtown New Orleans.

An event that began in Philadelphia in 1998 and found a natural fit in NOLA six years ago, the Running of the Santas is a grown-up holiday party that skews toward the naughty but has just enough nice to keep it from being tawdry.

“Running of the Santas is all about the sacred New Orleans Holy Trinity which consists of booze, music and costumes,” said Bob Dautrieve, the New Orleans’ event founder known as the “Mayor of the North Pole.”  

“It is unique in that it is like Christmas meeting Mardi Gras,” he says. “Only in Running of the Santas do party-goers spend weeks creating colorful and outlandish costumes –from a human Christmas tree to the Abominable Snowman."

The costumes make this a people-watching spectacle. The “run” part of the event is actually a four block jaunt. No one is trying to win a race, but most of the over 4,000 participants expected are trying to win the coveted Best Holiday Costume award. Holiday characters like Santa, Mrs. Claus, Scrooge, Jingle Bells, Jack Frost, Old Man Winter and NOLA’s own Mr. Bingle will be interpreted in costume. I’ve also seen dreidel, menorah and Hanukkah Harry costumes, so all should feel welcome to participate.

Day-of registration starts at 11:00 a.m. at the “South Pole,” which is Manning’s, located at 519 Fulton Street. The party officially kicks off at 2:00 p.m. at Manning’s with holiday food and specialty drinks.

Then at 6:00 p.m., participants will depart Manning’s for their four-block fun run through the Warehouse District to the “North Pole” located at Generation’s Hall.


The band Category 6 will start the North Pole party with their rock covers and neon costumed antics. At 8:00 p.m. the costume contest will commence.

The contest will be MC’d by Jammer from radio station B97. It will be judged by celebrity media figures Travers Mackel, Fletcher Mackel, Kesley Davis and Jay Galle from WDSU-TV; FOX 8’s Garland Gillen, Ryan Naquin and Bob Kreiger; and WGNO Good Morning America Host Jacki Jing. 

After the contest is decided, Flow Tribe will bring their New Orleans funk to the stage for the remainder of the party.

If this is the party of your dreams, advance registration is recommended. General admission tickets purchased in advance are $20 and VIP tickets, which include an open bar and VIP lounge at Generation’s Hall, are $75. VIP tickets are limited to 200 in total. Prices will go up for day-of registration.

Here’s the nice part that balances the naughty. A portion of the proceeds will benefit That Others May Live Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships, family counseling and aid to surviving children of United States Air Force Rescue Heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice during a rescue mission. The foundation’s goal is to ensure that every child of a fallen or severely wounded personnel recovery service member receives an opportunity for success.

So celebrate your blessings this holiday season in a ridiculous costume that will make people jealous of your skills, knowing that you still have a shot at avoiding the coal in your stocking this year.



Categories: Tourism Biz