by Taylor Johnson
In 2009, 27 inches of snow fell in one day. It was a blizzard in full force. This did not stop the city of Philadelphia. Looking out of their windows, Philadelphians could find over 2,000 costumed crusaders still navigating the streets and making their way to the music. It was the annual “Running of the Santas” event and nothing was going to stop its loyal attendees from drinking up, rocking out, and transforming the city into the North Pole for a day.
Now, five years later, the “Running of the Santas Mega Festival” is celebrating its 17th year of hoppin’ bars and rocking out in costume. This event is being held on December 13th at the Electric Factory, home to some of the city’s best performances.
Ed Kowalczyk, Pennsylvania native and former front man of LIVE, will be headlining the event. Other acts include LeCompt, Gypsy Wisdom, Split Decision, Secret Service, Love Seed Mama Jump, Annie Minogue, Scott’s New Band, Catlin Gould, and The Wayside Shakeup. Combined, the acts will deliver an outstanding 15 hours of energy-driven live performances.
Event organizer Matt McDermott talks of how they keep the party popping for such a lengthy duration. “We keep it fun,” McDermott says. “We find the best dressed, craziest people in the crowd to introduce the bands. Local celebrities (radio DJs, the Phillie Phanatic, Miss Philadelphia, etc) have attended and always get the crowd excited between band sets.” Everyone is involved. Anyone can attend. McDermott himself will be somewhere out there in his red tuxedo, dressed to impress.
The “Running of the Santas” has come a long way since its inception in 1998; geographically too. In 2010, the event was seen on major television networks and gained national attention mainly through Art Mann’s coverage on his show Art Mann Presents. Since then, other cities have followed in Philadelphia’s footsteps. The idea has spread from downtown Philly to New Zealand and is still standing strong after seventeen years. Cheap fun is infectious. Who would have thought?
In accordance with this trend, McDermott expects a much larger turnout this year. Ticket sales are up and the prices are down. “We managed to pack all of those bands and keep the beers at $3 and keep the ticket prices as low as $15,” McDermott explains. A portion of the event’s proceeds will go to the Ellie Koerner Leukemia Foundation to help aid those affected. Co-founder, Ryan Van Laeys, assisted in the development of the Ellie Koerner Leukemia Foundation, named after his own niece who has since beaten the disease. “Ellie continues to be a role model to all of us,” says McDermott. “Now she is one of the state’s best gymnasts for her age group.” It is always great to see entertainment give back to the community in such a personal way.
So if you are looking for a good time this holiday season, look no further. Stop by or stay for the day. The event begins at 9:00 am at McFadden’s, located at 461 N. 3rd Street, and will move to the Electric Factory at 11:00am, the south and north poles of the festivities. Tickets are still available online.
Philadelphia is the perfect place to embrace your inner Santa and get you in the Christmas spirit. “Just give Philly a reason to dress up, drink cheap beer, and listen to their favorite local bands and you have a recipe for greatness,” concludes McDermott. With this, we couldn’t agree more.