NOTE TO MEDIA: Reporters are invited and encouraged to attend and cover the 2007 Running of the Santas benefit event. Running of the Santas will take place at downtown taverns and bars on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. To confirm attendance and to receive a list of locations and visit times, please contact Karen E. Butler, Vice President of Communications, at kbutler@ctfightsMS.org or call at 860.997.4487.
7 p.m. - City Steam
8 p.m. - Running of the Santas on Pratt Street
8:10 p.m. - Vaughan’s Public House
9 p.m. - McKinnon’s Irish Pub
10 p.m. - Pig’s Eye Pub
11 p.m. - Up or On the Rocks
12 a.m. - The Federal Café
Hartford Pubs, Eager To Be Found On Saint Nick’s "Nice" List,
HARTFORD, Conn. You better watch out. You better not cry. Better not pout! We’re tellin’ you why 30 Santas are comin’ to town! And that ain’t no lie. On Saturday, Dec. 8, downtown Hartford taverns will belly up to the bar to rally with more than 30 jolly fat men to host the second annual Running of the Santas pub crawl all to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter and the more than 6,000 Connecticut residents battling the potentially debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis (MS).
"Last year the Running of the Santas raised more than $2,500 to help in the fight against multiple sclerosis," said Kevin O’Connell, coordinator of the holiday event and director of financial operations with Waterbury Garment. "The Running of the Santas is made up of a group of merry individuals who on occasion enjoy a wee bit of revelry especially if it’s for a worthy cause."
In 2006, the Hartford Wanderers Rugby Club donned Santa suits and in a synchronize chorus of, "Ho! Ho! Ho!," popped into downtown Hartford pubs to ensure holiday cheer by raising a pint or two to good will, singing a refrain of "Here Comes Santa Claus" and contributing in the fight against multiple sclerosis.
"I have friends battling the effects of multiple sclerosis," said O’Connell, a West Hartford resident who plays fly-half (football equivalent of quarterback) for the Hartford Wanders Rugby team. "We wanted to find a unique means for celebrating the Holiday Season and an even more distinctive manner for raising money for a great cause."
Downtown Hartford pubs partnering with the Santas included City Steam, Vaughan’s Public House, Sweet Janes, McKinnon’s Irish Pub, Pour House, UP or On the Rocks, The Federal Cafe, Mayor Mike’s Restaurant and Pig’s Eye Pub.
"The pubs, bars and nightclubs are amazing," said O’Connell with a twinkle in his eye and sly smile. "All are eager to avoid Saint Nick’s naughty list opting instead to be included on Santa’s nice list. In the spirit of the Season, each establishment has contributed generously to secure a jovial visit from Santa."
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents live with multiple sclerosis, a chronic and often disabling disease of the central nervous system. There currently is no cure. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness and, in some more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted. Funds raised through events, such as the Running of the Santas, ensure ongoing scientific research to find a cause, new treatments and a cure for multiple sclerosis. The funds also provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter to the more than 6,000 Connecticut residents living with multiple sclerosis.
"Although the object of any business is to generate revenue, as owners, we believe it’s also important to give back to the community," said Shaun Sullivan, one of three partners operating UP or On the Rocks, featuring a rock and dance club in one nightclub. "Last year’s Santa pub crawl turned out really nice. I think anytime people get into the holidays and really embrace the true spirit of the season, it’s uplifting. Giving back can be a very rewarding experience."
At last year’s Running of the Santas, UP or On the Rocks was hosting up a private holiday party in its dance club when Santas arrived full force. According to Sullivan, the interaction between guests and Santas turned out to be the highlight of the evening.
"In a small way Santas and the area’s pubs are answering the call to help a neighbor and fight for a cause," said Sullivan, referring to Dr. William Petit’s and his call to communities across the state to carry on the work of his wife and daughters. "The Running of the Santas is creating awareness. It all starts with recognition, and then, if everyone just gives a little, we go on to accomplish great things."
Sleigh-drawn Santas will meet at City Steam Brewery Café, located at 942 Main Str. in Hartford, Conn., at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. The Running of the Santas will take place at 8 p.m., at the ringing of the bells, with Santas dashing down Pratt Street in one massive tavern-bound posse. Most pubs, bars and nightclubs are offering a Santa-inspired Happy Hour and various holiday specialty drinks for patrons contributing to the Running of the Santas event and the National MS Society.
Santas will conclude merriment at Federal Café, located at 84 Union Place. This year, community members are invited to join the fun by volunteering to slip into Santa suits for the 2007 Santa pub crawl.
For more information on the Running of the Santas pub crawl or to volunteer for Santa duty on Saturday, Dec. 8, please contact Kevin O’Connell at (860) 995-7206, by e-mail at email@example.com or visit www.hartfordsantas.com. For more information on MS, its effects and programs and services offer by the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, please visit www.ctfightsMS.org.
CUTLINE: As part of the 2006 Running of the Santas pub crawl, Santa Neil Caron, a resident of South Windsor, belts out a rendition of "Jingle Bells" at UP or On the Rocks in Downtown Hartford.
Karen E. Butler