Some background: Santanarchy, which is short for Santa Anarchy, is an annual event where people put on cheap Santa suits and generally maraud a given destination. Most of the participants are what could be called digeratti, in the tradition of Burning Man. I'm not at all sure of the history of it, but it's my understanding that it's been going on for about five years now, each year in a few different cities simultaneously. This year the major Santanarchy events were in San Jose, Los Anges, Portland, New York, Chicago and Atlanta.
The story: Driving from San Francisco to Mountain View, where we were intercepting the Santa hordes, our driver called one of the Santas on his cell phone. "Where are the Santas?" He got the lowdown: they're in the Burger King, they'll be there for like the next 15 minutes, then they're moving on. We had approximate coordinates, we'd find them when we pulled into town.
I was told Mountain View, which is your typical over-monied suburban outpost of boutiquey stores and corporate bosses, was chosen for this year's Santanarchy because "that's the whole idea, the Santas rampage cities that really need it. People have been taking this Silicon Valley shit too seriously." Amen to that. So this year's rampage started in Palo Alto, proceeded to Mountain View (where we were joining), and would be moving elsewhere from there. The Santa itinerary is a guarded secret before the fact to minimize contact with the media and police.
We pulled into town and established radio contact. We raised a Santa on the cell who began yelling directions so loudly and breathlessly I could hear everything from the backseat even over the engine noise. Soon we spotted a lone motley Santa.... and then lo, in the distance, 15 or 20 bedraggled Santas were coming our way. We parked and quickly donned our Santa regalia. Some locals asked from their pricey leased cars what we were doing, and we answered "Spreading good cheer!"
Joining the Santas I had the odd experience of having someone say hi whom I couldn't recognize through their costume. In San Francisco this is actually a semi common experience, and I've learned to roll with it. When everybody had identified each other and exchanged all their greetings and ho ho ho's, we made our merry way down the street.
Walking down what must have been called Main Street things got going, due probably as much to the power of numbers as alcohol. We yelled "Ho ho ho!" and "You better watch out!" at every passing car and person, and one guy in an old American muscle car laughed in return, which was his first mistake. In a flash his car was surrounded by frenzied Santas piling on his hood and actually rocking his car so hard that he and his passenger were bracing themselves against the dashboard for balance. I was glad to have my Santa beard so I could pull it over my mouth to hide from the world for a minute. But amazingly the people in the car laughed right along with the Santas, although I think I saw something at the edge of their smiles that wondered who exactly the joke was on.