GALLERY: Santa Pub Crawl paints the town red

It was more a case of Rudolph the wet-nosed reindeer on Saturday night, but even a downpour of summer rain could not dampen Christmas spirits at the annual Santa Claus Pub Crawl.

The weather gods sent an unwelcome gift of storms for the pub crawl’s 20th anniversary, with intermittent showers sending revellers scurrying for cover. 

‘‘That was the major issue, we had 4000 people trying to cram inside North Wollongong Hotel to get out of the rain,’’ pub crawl organiser Neil Webster said.

‘‘We were worried people wouldn’t come out because of the weather, but by 4pm North Gong was full.’’

Skimpy costumes, a staple of the pub crawl dress code, became liabilities as early afternoon warmth gave way to evening wet and cold. Cheap felt Santa jackets disintegrated or became makeshift rain covers, novelty hats became protective clothing and the Wollongong CBD became a teeming centre of soggy Santas.

‘‘But it was still bigger than previous years,’’ Mr Webster said, with more than 4000 charity wristbands  sold by 7pm. He estimated up to 10,000 people may have joined in the night’s festivities.

‘‘There were lines everywhere for all the venues,’’ he said.

With each of the wristbands selling for $5, Mr Webster said $20,000 had been raised for the Salvation Army from those sales alone. Adding donations from the venues, donation buckets, and a $10,000 contribution from Wollongong Nightlife, and organisers are expecting a big total.

‘‘We’re already looking to next year. 

‘‘We’ve already been talking to venues about improving on some minor things,’’ Mr Webster said.

There are also plans to possibly make the Santa Claus Pub Crawl into a Sydney or national event.

‘‘I’d love to turn it into a state or national thing,’’ Mr Webster said.

‘‘We could tie them all in, have a national Santa Claus Pub Crawl day.’’

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