Binghamton Mayhem: Witnesses Say SantaCon Was “Out of Control”
Many people who visited Binghamton during the weekend SantaCon celebration said they were shocked by the broken liquor bottles, plastic cups and other garbage that filled downtown streets and sidewalks.
Hundreds of students from the Binghamton area and elsewhere spent much of Saturday carousing around city streets and visiting bars while wearing festive holiday attire.
Ambulances were spotted at various locations downtown as medics responded to intoxication and assault calls.
People who were downtown to attend a Binghamton Black Bears hockey game, a comedy show and holiday parties expressed concern for their safety as they had to make their way through throngs of inebriated SantaCon celebrants.
Police released no information on any arrests made in connection with the daylong event. There were no reports of serious injuries related to SantaCon participants.
One downtown resident who saw some of what occurred downtown on Saturday complained about what he called "atrocities," with people urinating on buildings. He said he "could not believe the littering and the trash that was there from the roundabout down through State Street." He criticized city officials for not properly handing the crowd. He said "they dropped the ball."
A woman who drove around downtown on Sunday said "the garbage is awful."
The "first annual" SantaCon celebration in Binghamton was promoted in 2013 by three downtown bars. It turned into a tradition that usually occurs on the first Saturday in December. It now appears no group or organization officially sanctions the event.
Binghamton University students invite those who attend other SUNY schools to visit the local SantaCon, which generally is held a week before a similar event in New York City.
A notice on Binghamton University's website indicated the school's Health Promotion and Prevention Services unit was sponsoring a "Santacon tabling" event. The stated goal was "to help mitigate the effects of binge drinking while providing helpful resources to manage alcohol consumption."
The university's student-run "Harpur's Ferry" ambulance responded to calls during the SantaCon event.
Downtown streets, which sometimes are closed to traffic during special events, remained open Saturday afternoon and evening.
Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham could not be reached for comment about what happened over the weekend. Police chief Joseph Zikuski did not return phone calls seeking information about how his department prepared for this year's event or what officers encountered on Saturday.
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