Robin Schaefer was tired of just hearing about it.

Every December for the last several years, an aunt would relay the details of a lively event she saw unfold from the window of her New York City apartment and tell Schaefer, “You would love this.”

“I saw photos of it,” Schaefer, a 55-year-old Davenport resident, said. “And it just looked like a holly jolly type of thing.”

She’s referring to a yearly convention of Santas, called SantaCon, in which participants dress up in their best red and white suits and hop from bar to bar.

“Finally, I said, ‘I’m done hearing about it,’” she said. “I just thought it was something fun we should have here.”

So, this year, Davenport will have its own.

Schaefer has organized the first-ever SantaCon, which is set to begin at noon Saturday, Dec. 8, and will include stops at seven bars and restaurants in downtown Davenport, from Sippi's to Barrel House. The full route can be found attached to this story.

Schaefer, who is retired from a career in marketing and advertising, said she has been surprised to see how many people are interested in her SantaCon event on Facebook.

“I thought I would ask my friends and maybe get 50 people to do it,” she said. “Now, I’m certain we will have at least 100 people show up.”

Among those attending are Shaefer’s oldest son, close friends and a former high school classmate, Dave Schneden, who now lives in Delmar, Iowa.

Schneden said he has participated in themed bar crawls before, but never while dressed up as Santa.

“Dressing up as Santa Claus and going out and about just sounds fun,” he said. “It gets everybody in the spirit.”

Similar Santa bar crawls are scheduled to happen in roughly 150 cities across the country and world in December, according to a website called SantaCon.info.

So, why is a thing?

Here’s the — very simple — answer, from the site: “Because it’s fun. That is all. It’s one of the few chances left for adults to be silly without any kind of agenda.”

That being said, Schaefer listed a few guidelines on her Facebook event as to prevent placing the first-time event or any of its participants on the naughty list.

“Santa does not drink more than Santa can handle,” reads one rule. “Doing this endangers Santa's self, Santa's friends, and the future of SantaCon.”

Schaefer, a self-described “Christmas person” who has at least five Christmas trees set up in her Davenport home, said she’s looking forward to starting a new tradition she can share with her family, friends and strangers.

If SantaCon returns in future years, she hopes to have some proceeds go toward a local charity, such as Toys for Tots. 

“I love this time of year, but I sometimes get over the gift-buying part of it, because as a mom and wife, it all tends to fall on me,” Schaefer said. “With something like this, I get to have the fun too.”

The mother of three bought a Santa costume, complete with a white beard and hair, to don during next weekend’s festivities and pointed out that low-frills Santa costumes can be purchased for less than $20 online.

“It’s going to be a funny image,” she said. “It’s going to be fun to see 100 people dressed as Santa walking around downtown Davenport.”


Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).