Hundreds of Santas invade North Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. - Honks and cheers filled the frigid air along the street in North Portland on Saturday as Santas of all shapes and sizes strolled through the neighborhood, visiting bars, handing out little gifts and waving at passing cars.

A boisterous but friendly horde of about 200 Santas took over North Portland for a wild bar crawl. By the end of the night, about 600 Santas danced the night away in Mississippi neighborhood bars.

"Today, we are supporting our local businesses in the neighborhoods of Kenton and North Portland, all the way down to the Mississippi neighborhood," Robert Monge, one of the event coordinators, said. "We call this the Anticon - we're not with the SantaCon, which is downtown today as well."

The NoPDXAnticon started out years ago when about 20 people decided to suit up and walk the neighborhood supporting local bars.

"Between Kenton, Lombard, Rosa Parks and Killingsworth, we have at least 20 stops," Monge said. "And they're all waiting, they're ready for us. The reaction from the businesses is so supportive, it's incredible.

Not only did the event support local businesses this year, it also had a canned food drive for Oregon Food Bank and encouraged wrapped gift donations for North Portland foster children.

"My favorite part about it is making new friends and the cheer of Christmas and helping out those, the needy, that could not make it," Monge said. "It's been a rough year for a lot of people. We want to make sure and help as much as we can."

Joseph Shellhart, a young bearded Santa, tried to sum the event up.

"Each SantaCon is very different," he said. "When you come you meet a lot of new interesting people but then there's also people you met last year. It's almost like yesterday that just you met them. SantaCon's just perfect, it brings people together."