SantaCon organizer urges people not to gather in SF amid COVID surge

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — For the last 25 years — Santa’s young and old have flocked to San Francisco in early December for SantaCon.

This year’s official gathering has, of course, been cancelled — but the organizer is afraid of some Santas going rogue and gathering anyway. 

“Please… I’ll say it directly to the camera — do not go down there,” Tom Dibell said.

Tom Dibell or Santa Tom as he’s known — says he’s very concerned, after hearing murmurings of fellow Santas planning to still gather in some way this weekend for SantaCon 2020.

“The bars are going to be closed, the restaurants are going to be closed, San Francisco is in lockdown,” Dibell said. “Please you’re wasting your time.”

He said back in June, he put out a notice that the annual gathering, which brings together several thousand Santas, would likely not go on. And as the pandemic continued to worsen, by September it was painfully obvious it had to be cancelled.

“I desperately don’t want anyone going down there on Saturday and coming down with the virus themselves,” Dibell said.

SantaCon started about 25 years ago in San Francisco, encouraging people to dress up and drink their way through the city.

Over the last several years, Santa Tom has encouraged his fellow helpers to bring toys with them as the revel, as part of a toy drive with the San Francisco Fire Department.

Last year they collected more than 2,000 toys.

“A couple years ago I walked through the crowd and everybody said ‘The real Santa’s here! The real Santa’s here!” Dibell said.

He says he’ll miss the kids – and the general enjoyment of being together at this time of year.

But he’s seen first hand the suffering COVID-19 can cause its victims, and wants everyone to just stay safe.

“Fixing this one, Santa can’t do. Santa has to leave this one to the doctors and the nurse, the folks that know what they’re doing,” he said. “I have to leave it to them and hope pray that nobody gets sick.”

Santa Tom says he’s heard of people thinking they can gather with their group friends at home — he’s urging those folks to follow the guidelines. Dress up as Santa with those only in your household and enjoy the day at home.

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