The 22nd annual Santa Claus Pub Crawl for Charity starts in some venues around lunchtime on Saturday with others kicking in late afternoon.
There will be 19 venues all up for the 2015 event and an estimated 10,000 people taking part.
“This is going to be the biggest year yet,” event founder Neil Webster said.
“Last year we raised over $100,000 for charity!”
The SCPC is listed by Ninemsn as one of the “Top Ten Pub Crawls in the World” and Channel 10 is sending a team from Studio 10 to cover the event itself on the night.
“Infrastructure changes for this year have seen the inclusion of 8 dedicated shuttle buses (from 4pm-3am), Northern & Southern route ‘Summer Safety Buses’ (11pm-4am) and greater traffic management procedures around the event,” Mr Webster said.
The Santa Claus Pub Crawl raises funds for the Salvos First Floor program through donations and merchandise sales.
It originally started with Mr Webster getting together a small group of friends to raise some Christmas spirit and have fun.
It has since become recognised as the longest continually run Santa Pub Crawl in the world .
“Over $103,000 was raised in 2014,” Mr Webster said.
But another thing he is proud of is that in two decades the event has never had any major trouble.
That is important to Mr Webster who never wants to see any alcohol related violence or anti-social behaviour associated with the Santa Claus Pub Crawl.
In fact it is his motivation for originally staging the whole event.
“Back on Xmas Eve, 1997; I was attacked by 5 guys leaving a pub in Hurstville,” he said.
“They proceeded to beat the crap out of me - my jaw broken in two places, three cracked ribs, and a concussion - just because I wasn't going the same way down the street as them. I spent weeks in hospital and lost 13kg drinking through a straw for the next three months. Since that day I've vowed to not only bring some Christmas spirit back, but to also help change people’s attitudes towards socialising with alcohol at pubs – especially at Christmas time. The enjoyment, fun, laughter and friendships that everyone builds on the SCPC are a testament to the fact that you can go out and not be a DICK! Plus we make a lot of kids lives better with the donations we raise.”
Founder: Santa Claus Pub Crawl founder Neil Webster is passionate about promoting responsible drinking. In early 2015 he spoke about it publicly for the first time when he met Thomas Kelly Foundation's founders Kathryn Kelly and Ralph Kelly at a TAFE Illawarra event management student run corporate golf day at Shell Cove where. He was the emcee and spoke of his own experience. Picture by Greg Ellis.
Mr Webster said with anti-social behaviour and alcohol related incidents, being such a negative part of nightlife everywhere these days, it was important to note that Santa Claus Pub Crawl for Charity is helping to change the culture of drinking and bring back some Christmas spirit at the same time.
“In its 20 year history, there have been no major incidents related to the event,” he said.
Mr Webster spoke publicly about his own experience while being the emcee for a TAFE Illawarra student run golf day at Shell Cove in early 2015. He was inspired to reveal all from having the opportunity to meet Thomas Kelly Foundation founders Kathryn Kelly and Ralph Kelly. See the full story here.
By Greg Ellis
Illawarra Mercury, 12th December 2015