By Eileen Moon
RED BANK – When the Red Bank Athletic Foundation says Santa Claus is coming to town, they aren’t kidding.
This Saturday, Dec. 17, a vast slew of Santas will be coming in to town for the first ever Red Bank Santa Con (Convention).
SantaCon is an international holiday event whose mission is to spread the fun of the season while raising money or collecting toys and gifts for distribution to those in need.
The Santas and their traveling companions (elves, reindeer, etc.) are gathering for a day of fun and fundraising for a good cause.
They’ll be raising money to fund sports programs at Red Bank Middle School, where the amount of money allocated to sports programs has been cut dramatically in recent years.
To make up the difference, a small group of community members came together to raise the money necessary to provide Red Bank kids with soccer, basketball, baseball, track and field programs they would otherwise do without.
The foundation also has helped to bring RBMS students to Monmouth University basketball games and partner with Brookdale Community College to introduce them to the college’s sports programs.
“The biggest expense is coaching and transportation,” says Alex Federico, president of the Red Bank Middle School Athletics Foundation. “We’re utilizing most of the funds we raise to get those taken care of. We’re really trying to give everyone at RBMS an equal opportunity to succeed, as they would have if it was properly funded.”
“This will be the first time SantaCon is coming to Red Bank, NJ and we are hopeful that it won’t be the last, Federico said.
Some 7,000 Santas converged on Manhattan for New York City’s Santacon recently, Federico said, and two years ago, Moscow (yes, that Moscow) took the cake when 68,000 Santas turned out for a Russian Santacon, setting a world record.
It’s doubtful that the Red Bank Santacon will top that, but Federico is hoping for a very respectable turnout. Don’t have a Santa suit? No worries.
“Any sort of Christmas-related characters are welcome – toy soldiers, gingerbread houses…any sort of wacky, quirky, festive costumes are welcome. We’re hoping for everyone to be creative.”
With Hanukkah only days away (the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights begins Dec. 20) candles, dreidels and the like are most welcome as well.
Participants are invited to gather at the Dublin House between 12:30 and 2 p.m. on Saturday to register for the event and make a donation of $15, which entitles the Santas, reindeer, elves, etc. to food and drink specials at 11 participating bars and restaurants in town SantaCon officially gets under way at 2 p.m. with an end time of 8 p.m.