Ten years ago a group of friends decided to rent a bus, put on Santa suits and start drinking. They sent out a few emails and ended up with 30 friends in holiday-themed outfits drinking at four bars.
For the 10th annual Santa Pub Crawl, organizers are expecting to spread cheer to around 800 costumed drinkers, transporting them to more than a dozen bars on 18 buses.
“I think the biggest thing that’s made people turn out is that the Santa Pub Crawl ties into the subconscious emotion that we’ve been trained to celebrate Christmas since before we can remember,” said event co-founder Jason Kiesau.
Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about this year’s Santa Pub Crawl:
The pre-party: Waves of buses will start leaving Miss Kitty’s at 7 and 8 p.m., but attendees can start showing up at Miss Kitty’s at 5 p.m. There will be free beer and pizza while it lasts, and people can pose with Santa and his elves and reindeer while they wait.
The specials: Every bar will be serving $2 draws and $2.50 bottles of Miller Lite and Coors Light; $3 calls of Captain Morgan, Absolut and Jack Daniels; and $5 Jager bombs.
The bars: In addition to Miss Kitty’s, stops on the crawl include Cabaret West Glen, 560 S. Prairie View Drive, West Des Moines; Wellman’s Pub, 597 Mark St., West Des Moines and 2920 Ingersoll Ave., Blue Moon Dueling Piano Bar, 5485 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines; Beer Can Alley, 216 Court Ave.; Johnny’s Hall of Fame, 302 Court Ave.; Mickey’s Irish Pub, 1800 N.W. 86th St., Clive; Heroes, 216 Court Ave.; Bombay Bicycle Club, 8410 Hickman Road, Clive; Down Under, 8350 Hickman Road, Clive; The Standard, 208 Third St.; and Ultra 515 Lounge, 5535 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines.
The charities: Young Variety, Mentor Iowa and Toys for Tots will all receive a portion of ticket sales. Over the last 10 years the event has raised nearly $30,000 for local charities. In addition, this year the event will feature a 50/50 raffle. You can buy raffle tickets online at desmoinespubcrawl.com. Half the money raised will go to the charities, while the other half goes to the lucky raffle winner. Don’t tell your friends you won until the next day, otherwise drinks may be on you.
VIPs: If you want to go all out, $40 will get you on a party bus. That gets you a little more space to stretch out, a T-shirt and the ability to bring a cooler of beverages with you on the bus. (You won’t be able to get to-go cups from bars. Sorry.) Also, the buses have stripper poles. Santa strip-off anyone?
Costume contest: Finalists will be selected throughout the night and their photos will be posted on the Santa Pub Crawl Facebook page for a week of voting.
Santa Pub Crawl
When: Saturday — free pizza and beer starting at 5 p.m. Buses leave starting at 7 p.m.
Where: Starting at Miss Kitty’s, 8800 Swanson Blvd., Clive
Cost: $25 in advance, $30 at the door