Hundreds of Santas will be bar crawling across downtown tonight in the name of charity and holiday cheer.
The idea behind the Santa Crawl started a decade ago, when Larry Fall , Class of 1974, one of the crawl’s founders, began crashing bar Christmas parties in Santa costumes, Fall said.
“I’d go to the Dollar Store and buy about a hundred stuffed animals that I’d carry around in a sack and hand out to people, mostly women,” Fall said. “The bars actually enjoyed it and began inviting me to their parties.”
In 2004, Fall teamed up with friend and former Penn State basketball player Brian Allen , Class of 1989, after Allen noticed other cities participating in similar events.
“I’m from the Northern Virginia-D.C. area,” said Allen. “I asked Larry if he wanted to do a crawl in State College after I saw him doing it for a few years.
Fall said at the time, he didn’t realize this was actually a worldwide phenomena called SantaCon or Santarchy.
Owner of Rotelli Dave Krauth said he has been involved with the Crawl for about four years.
“This year the crawl starts at Kildare’s and Café 210 West, and then people meet in the middle of town,” Krauth said. “People come back to town just for it.”
In 2011, the crawl began to support the Pat Boland scholarship fund, which benefits students in the College of Communications who take on unpaid internships, Allen said.
“Pat died from cancer in July 2011, so that Christmas we decided to have the wristbands and have the money go into a scholarship in his name,” Allen said. “Last year, we ended up raising about $2,000. We hope to endow it this Christmas.”
A $10 contribution gets each crawler an event wristband and serves as a universal bar cover, according to a press release issued by the Santa Crawl.
Café 210 West owner J.R. Mangan said his bar waives the cover in support of the crawl.
“This is the first time they are starting at Café,” Mangan said. “They used to end here, but since it’s grown so much, they will start in two locations this year.”
The need for two locations grew out of the popularity of the event, Allen said.
“We started out with just five guys, and now we expect 400 to 500 people this year,” Allen said. “It has been really amazing.”