Downtown Riverhead’s restaurants and bars were packed last night with many a jolly elf — and more than a few jolly reindeers, happy snowmen and snow bunnies — for an event billed by promoters as Riverhead’s first annual SantaCon.

The pub crawl turnout was huge despite rain that was at times steady and drenching. The Suffolk Theater was “maxed out,” according to a bouncer turning people away at the lobby doors.

2014_1206_santacon_2“We can’t let any more in until some people leave,” he told dozens of people dressed in Santa suits and other holiday-themed garb, who spilled out onto the sidewalk under the bright lights of the theater’s marquee.

Inside the theater, holiday-suited party-goers danced, drank and were indeed very merry. It was the same story at watering holes up and down Main Street, from Hotel Indigo on the west to Jerry and the Mermaid on the east.

“It’s like St. Paddy’s Day — only red,” said a waitress at Digger’s Ales ‘n Eats on West Main Street, which was also filled to capacity.

The crowds were well-behaved and there were no SantaCon-related incidents reported, according to the Riverhead Police Department, which had extra officers on foot patrol downtown last night as a precautionary measure.

SantaCon visitors purchased $10 wristbands that entitled them to special Santacon discounts and promotions at participating restaurants and pubs. Proceeds from the sale of wristbands are slated for The Brendan House, a group home for traumatic brain injury patients currently being built in Riverhead by New Beginnings Community Center.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Peter Blasl and Denise Civiletti

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.