“It has been an amazing turnout,” said Rachel Boles, who organized this year’s SantaCon, after restarting the tradition in Pacific Beach in 2017. “Last year, we had about 100 people. This year we had more than 400 come out.”
All those somewhat-sauced Santas donated more than 200 toys and raised more than $2,000 for the Toy for Tots program. “I’m going to be buying a lot of toys for children,” Boles said. “I’m really happy about that.”
They also filled restaurants and bars – Tavern at the Beach, Mavericks Beach Club, The Local PB, and Sandbox Pizza – spreading more green around for service workers during a normally slow Saturday. “These places are packed on what is usually a dead Saturday because people are busy with the holidays and college football’s not on,” said Boles, who works for US Foods and has many contacts in the service industry.
Boles, who’s originally from south New Jersey, said she was surprised there wasn’t an active SantaCon in Pacific Beach when she moved to San Diego. “It’s huge on the East Coast and in other West Coast cities like San Francisco and LA. I know it gets a bad rap at times, but last year we had no incidents. Hopefully, this year everything goes well.”
Boles said that most people she meets are also San Diego transplants with no family here, so they rely on friends during the holidays.
“This event is a big deal for me because I can’t always go back east to visit family at Christmas. A lot of these people here can’t either, which is why spending time with your friends is so important – we become family. And today, we’re also helping out other families so they can have a wonderful Christmas,” Boles said.