PARK CITY, Utah — One of the town’s favorite holiday traditions, the Park City Santa Pub Crawl and Toy Drive, began with a chance encounter.
In 2007, local Rachel Watts was walking through downtown Park City when she saw a group of people dressed like Santa Claus.
“I asked them what they were doing, and they said, ‘oh, you know, we do the Santa crawl.’ There were only eight of them,” Watts said. “And then I said, ‘well, I want to do it next year.'”
Watts and the group continued to dress up and do a Santa Crawl each year until the event’s ringleaders moved out of town in 2010.
“So I said, ‘well, I’ll have to do it then,'” Watts said. “So starting in 2011 is when I did it the first time with about 15 of us. The next year there were maybe 20, and then 30. Once we got the Facebook page going, it started going up to like 100 and then 200.”
The Santa Pub Crawl grew in size and popularity, drawing participants from Salt Lake City and beyond with its fun atmosphere and competitive costume contest. But one year, Watts started to feel like the crawl had lost some of its festive holiday spirit.
“It wasn’t the kind of feeling I was looking for, it got pretty nasty sometimes,” Watts said. “People just got too competitive. So, I thought it’d be nice to do a toy drive with it.”
Watts partnered with Seth Hill, the operating partner of Downstairs, who already held a toy drive at the nightclub each year. The two began asking for unwrapped toys or donations for the Christian Center of Park City’s Operation Hope in lieu of a cover charge to participate in the crawl.
Now over 1,000 people participate in the Santa Pub Crawl and Toy Drive each year, many of them bringing multiple toys to donate.
“Now there are so many toys. There are toys left over they actually go down to the Four Corners area to the Indian Reservation, that never happened before,” Watts said. “We are the single biggest event that donates to Operation Hope, which is great.”
The 2022 crawl will kick off on Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. at Butcher’s Chop House and Bar, where participants will get their hands stamped when they make a cash or unwrapped cash donation to the Christian Center’s Operation Hope.
At 7 p.m., the crawl will move to Downstairs, which is the main toy drop-off location. From 8-10 p.m., participants will move to Flanagans, No Name Saloon, and The Spur before the finale party begins at 9 p.m. at The Den at The Cabin Park City, where Rage Against The Supremes will play.