POLL: Pub patrons set for Santa invasion 

A storm of Santas, an avalanche of elves and a cavalcade of Christmas cheer is about to hit Wollongong, with the annual Santa Claus Pub Crawl to take over the CBD this weekend.

Saturday night marks the 20th year of the event, one of the biggest and longest-running pub crawls of its type in the world.

Organiser Neil Webster expects more than 10,000 Kris Kringles, reindeer, snowmen and elves - as well as at least one large polar bear - to join this year's pub crawl, making it the biggest event by far.

"There's 18 venues signed up to take part this year," he said.

"More than 5500 people got involved last year. Looking at the social media support and what I'm hearing around town, we'll go close to double that this year."

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The Santa Claus Pub Crawl raises funds for the Salvation Army's Christmas efforts, with venues asking for small entry fees or donating a portion of proceeds on the night to the charity.

This year's event was officially launched yesterday at the North Wollongong Hotel, the traditional starting point for most pub crawlers, with the Wollongong Nightlife group donating an initial $10,000 to the Salvos.

"We can't thank the venues enough, they're always so supportive of this every year," Mr Webster said.

Doug Sweeney, licensee at the North Gong, said his venue expected to host more than 6000 Christmas revellers on Saturday.

Both Mr Sweeney and Mr Webster praised the good behaviour of pub crawlers. Despite most venues bursting to capacity every year, incidents are usually few and far between on the night.

"There's something special about the night, it's a different mood because everyone's happy and in costume," Mr Sweeney said.

"It's hard to get into a fight when there's a few thousand Santas around you," Mr Webster laughed.

Mr Webster said he hoped all participants could donate $10 to the charity, whether through buying lucky door wristbands, charity stubbie holders, or just cash donations.

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