Wollongong’s Santa Claus Pub Crawl can now claim to be an international event after people traveled from Hong Kong, USA and the United Kingdom to take part.
With more than 6000 tickets sold by Thursday and 3000 on the gate at North Gong Hotel by 3pm on Saturday the 2017 charity pub crawl set a new record.
By mid afternoon founder Neil Webster was confident that well over 10,000 people were going to be involved in the charity fundraiser’s 24th year.
And that means a record amount will be raised to help the Salvation Army run programs for local families in need not only at Christmas but all year round.
“We are well and truly up on numbers,” Mr Webster said.
This year the Rotary Club of Wollongong ran its barbecue in the grounds of the hotel with the help of Hawks players on Saturday afternoon.
And what was clear talking to pub crawlers early in the day was how many were from out of town.
The first dozen patrons the Illawarra Mercury spoke to were either from Sydney or the United Kingdom.
“We have huge numbers from Sydney, Campbelltown and the Shoalhaven and this year we have had a lot of people coming from western NSW and Grafton,” Mr Webster said.
“We had two guys come in from Hong Kong and three from the United States. This is international now. This isn’t just Wollongong any more. This has become a worldwide event. It shows how well known and highly regarded Wollongong’s Santa Claus Pub Crawl is becoming.”
Brad Bevan, of Bondi, drove down with three friends from the United Kingdom he met when he was traveling overseas and did a pub crawl with in London.
Mark Woodward, of the Midlands in England, said a Welsh friend told him about the Wollongong event and he wanted to do it while he was in Australia.
Bianca Honsin is originally from Broken Hill and now lives in Sydney and arrived with Sukamya Mitsos, of Heathcote, and some other friends.
“We love how it is all festive and is charity based,” Ms Mitsos said.
Miya Kennedy, of Dapto, said she had known about the pub crawl for years but had to wait until she was 18 to come with a group of friends who planned to stay for the whole 13 hours.
“We will stay here (North Gong) for a few hours and then catch the bus over to Pepe’s,” she said.
The circulation of eight BigWheelz party buses between venues provided a shuttle service around all venues from 4pm to 3am.
Wollongong Rotarian Leigh Robinson said it was the fourth year.
“We are really excited to be here where it is all happening,” he said.