SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – SantaCon returns to San Francisco Saturday following a one-year hiatus from the annual event due to the pandemic.

Bars are preparing for large crowds as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Proof of vaccination will be required for patrons planning to celebrate indoors.

SantaCon is typically a day people let their hair down and throw caution to the wind.

People dress like Santa Claus and spend the day bar-hopping in San Francisco.

The event is also considered the bar industry’s Black Friday.

The revenue generated helps businesses get through the less profitable times of the year.

Not every bar participates but a lot do and this year, everyone will need to be mindful the pandemic is not over.

“We want to spread holiday cheer. We don’t want to spread the Omicron variant,” Ben Bleiman said. 

Ben Bleiman owns two bars in the city and founded the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance.

The organization has more than 500 members and represents more than 350 bars. He says all of them have plans in place to allow patrons to celebrate safely.

“I have spoken to many, many bar owners. Everybody’s got beefed up security this year. You’re going to have to show proof of vaccination at entry. A negative COVID test does not count anymore — it’s just proof of vaccination,” Bleiman said. 

Bleiman says all of his staff members are vaccinated and believes customers will follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

“There may be a little bit of COVID that comes from this, but that it won’t be serious and that it won’t spread, because everybody’s vaccinated, and we know that that works. And, if we look at the data — even the newest data about this variant — it still works,” Bleiman said. 

To take part in the festivities, you can donate to SantaCon’s charity drive online to secure a spot in the bar crawl.