SantaCon brings nostalgia, community to the holiday season

You better watch out – SantaCon is back, once again bringing a stocking full of classic kitsch and a mug full of holiday cheer.

From 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company will be filled with holiday-clad guests looking to enjoy the spirit of the season while supporting United Way of Clark, Champaign & Madison Counties.

“SantaCon is about coming together with friends and strangers to celebrate the fellowship and nostalgia of the holiday season, to spread cheer for United Way, and to drink and be merry,” says Greg Rogers, an agent with Springfield’s Link-Hellmuth Insurance, who organizes the annual event with his wife, Kathryn.

The couple brought the idea for a Springfield SantaCon back with them after attending a similar event while on a trip to New Your City about five years ago. Since launching the event in Springfield, Rogers says the local business community has been incredibly supportive of providing business sponsorships to make SantaCon possible.

“All the funding from the event goes to United Way, and the goal is to get people to have a good time and donate to United Way in a fun way at the event,” Rogers says.

The support for United Way comes by way of games during the event, including a spinning wheel and 50/50, as well as cash voting to pick the winners of each category of a costume contest – Best Santa and Best Holiday Outfit. The costume contest kicks off at 7:15 p.m.

“We are once again super excited that Greg and Kathryn Rogers are hosting SantaCon to benefit United Way,” says Kerry Pedraza, executive director of United Way of Clark, Champaign & Madison Counties. “Greg and Kathryn’s vision of SantaCon has grown over the years, and SantaCon has become a premiere event for Holiday in the City. United Way is grateful to be a part of it.”

United Way supports the work of more than 30 non-profit organizations in Clark County, Pedraza says, adding that the organization’s funding assists agencies with meeting the increased needs for food, rent and utility assistance, as well as counseling and mental health services, medical services, prescription drug assistance, and 24/7 information and referral services.

“Now more than ever, our neighbors need assistance in so many ways,” she says. “SantaCon is a great way for the entire community to celebrate and have a wonderful time, all while doing good for our neighbors.”

Returning this year, the event will include a Hot Bar with a variety of signature holiday-themed cocktails – think Hot Toddy – a festive photo booth, and on-site sales of the limited edition event T-shirts, which will be available in both short- and long-sleeve options. Watch for a sneak peek of this year’s design coming soon to the SantaCon event page on Facebook.

Springfield’s SantaCon is also full of live music, with this year’s lineup kicking off at 4 p.m. with DJ House, who will play music throughout the night. As has become a tradition, 10-year-old Arlo Larson will open the live performances at 5 p.m., followed by The Dawson Trio at 6 p.m. and Jah Soul at 8 p.m.

A new addition this year will be ice sculptures carved as ugly Christmas sweaters that guests can pose behind as a unique photo op.

“At SantaCon, you’ll see kids, adults, community leaders, and all kinds of people coming together and having fun,” Rogers says of the family-friendly event.

SantaCon is just one part of Springfield’s five-week-long Holiday in the City celebration that involves local businesses and organizations hosting fun-filled holiday activities and events throughout the city from Thanksgiving through New Years.

“There’s been a core group of community leaders who have worked super hard to improve the momentum and vibes of our Downtown over the years,” Rogers says. “With SantaCon, we’re honored to be a part of that and, more specifically, of Holiday in the City. We’re excited to be a part of that comradery and that drive and that growth of Downtown Springfield.”

Kevin Loftis, co-owner of Mother Stewart’s, says the brewery is happy to host SantaCon and to be part of such a successful event that brings so many people together.

“I think it’s a win-win-win. We win by getting people at the brewery. We get to help raise money. And the customers win because they have a fun, big space to get together and celebrate. And the organizations win by having the community show up to support them,” he says.

Mother’s will be releasing it’s seasonal brew on tap during SantaCon – Fainting Goat Doppelbock – which Loftis describes as a strong multi-amber lager. And, food trucks on-site during the event will include Christian Brothers Meat Company and Raging Bull Wood Fired Pizza.

“I like to have events like this because the space lends itself to events like this, and it’s something we can help bring to the community.”
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Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.