What the New Zealand Herald described as a "drunken mob of rude oafs", all dressed in Father Christmas outfits, launched a raid on the Hoyts Cinema complex at Moorhouse Avenue in Christchurch at around 4.00 pm on Saturday, 22nd December.

According to the cinema Manager Derek Rive the misbehaving Santas ran through the complex and "wrecked everything they could" including it seems the Christmas tree whilst they abused patrons, chanted obscenities, ripped down posters and knocked over various cardboard figures advertising films. One patron Kate Gorman was later interviewed by the Christchurch Press and further described how "At least 50 drunk idiots dressed up like Santa come in through the main door. They were kicking things over, ripping down posters and smashing everything in sight. They were shouting 'Ho, fucking Ho'." The rogue Santas then triggered a fire alarm as they left, forcing an evacuation of the complex.

Naturally the whole thing was caught on the cinema's security cameras, although this was unlikely to be of much help to the police since, of course, all the suspects looked more or less alike.

The Christchurch outrage brought back memories of the events of two years ago in Auckland, New Zealand when the Bad Santas again struck on the Saturday before Christmas, 17th December 2005. That time around some forty men wearing what were described as "ill-fitting Father Christmas costumes" first appeared on a motorway bridge during the afternoon and began urinating on passing cars and smashing beer bottles. They subsequently knocked over litter bins in a public park, sprayed graffitti on the Victoria St NZ Post building, attacked a giant Christmas tree in the foyer of the Sky City Casino, and then entered the Victoria St Star Mart and began removing items from the shelves. This was followed by a confrontation with security guards at Britomart, an incident involving the removal of a windscreen wiper from a bus, before a group entered the Princes St Star Mart shouting 'Merry Christmas' as they helped themselves to beer and soft drinks.

That particular event was organised by a group named Santarchy whose spokesman and organiser, Alex Dyer claimed that it was a worldwide movement designed to protest against the commercialisation of Christmas, although a police spokesman described the Auckland events as "fairly average behaviour" from "an organised group of idiots".

As it happens 'Santarchy', motto "No force on earth can stop one hundred Santas!", does indeed appear to be some kind of worldwide phenomenon. The very first 'SantaCon' took took place in San Francisco in 1994 with the assistance of The San Francisco Cacophony Society, having been inspired by the activities of another organisation called The Suicide Club, which got the idea from some Danish political group who organised an event at a department store in Copenhagen. Since that time various 'SantaCon' and 'Santarchy' events have been organised across the globe and there was a long list of events scheduled for 2007, mainly taking place in various towns and cities in North America but also including such places as Berlin, Mumbai, Paris, and Phnom Penh.

However most of these events appear to have been fairly innocuous, such as the one organised for Cardiff in Wales on the 8th December 2007 which involved nothing more than a bunch of people going on a pub crawl dressed in Father Christmas outfits. Hence they appear to be largely ignored by the media unless the Santas really misbehave. There appears to be no rational explanation as why its always the Kiwi Santas who go bad.

SOURCES

  • Bad santas storm Christchurch cinema, NZ Herald, December 24, 2007
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10484102&ref=rss
  • Drunk Santas Go On Cinema Rampage, Monday December 24, 2007
    http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30200-1298246,00.html
  • Bad Santas run wild in Auckland, BBC News, 18 December 2005
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4539180.stm
  • Stephen Cook and Vaneesa Bellew, Santas fight and steal in the streets, NZ Herald, December 18, 2005
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10360490
  • See also Santarchy & Santacon at http://santarchy.com/ and various other Santarchy websites such as http://www.santacon-cymru.co.uk/ but not http://www.santacon.co.uk/ whose bandwidth limit was exceeded

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