Not so silent night

Santa Pub Crawl supports Toys for Tots

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: The Santa Pub Crawl, a benefit for Toys for Tots, will begin at 5 p.m. at Dublin Pub on Dec. 13

When we were kids, Christmas was a magical time. It was the blood that ran through our veins and the very air we breathed. The images were emblazoned in our minds all year long: visions of neatly-wrapped packages with big red bows on top, nestled lovingly under a balsam spruce.

As we get older, that tingling excitement for the holidays fades until it vanishes entirely. We think of the added expense Christmas brings and wonder how we’ll make ends meet.

The Santa Pub Crawl, an annual treat organized by Brian Young, president of 5th Street Brewpub, aims to get back some of the fascination we had as children. But in, y’ know, an adult sort of way.

A benefit for Toys for Tots, the Santa Pub Crawl brings together grownup kids dressed up as Santa or their favorite Christmas character for a stroll down Fifth Street, stopping at the Oregon District’s many watering holes.

The costumed participants bring along a $10 toy to donate, and as long as they’re wearing at least a Santa hat, they won’t be charged a cover to enter any of the bars along the way.

This year’s Santa Pub Crawl will take place on Saturday, Dec. 13. The event has come a long way in the nine years since the Santas first hit the street.

The first couple of Santa Pub Crawls were modest affairs, the first being about 15 friends in Santa hats walking from bar to bar. By the second year, that number had doubled.

“This year, I’m expecting well over a thousand,” Young said. “We’ll start out at the Dublin Pub at 5, then we go to the Trolley Stop, from there we go to the Tumbleweed [Connection], then we go to Blind Bob’s where we’ll have the costume contest and picture taking. We’ll be there for about an hour and a half to get all that done. Then we’ll go on to Oregon Express.”

That’s the plan, anyway. It is undoubtedly difficult to keep that many Santas contained. As Young said, “It’s never really one bar at a time.”

Later in the evening, the Santas will hit the dance floors to shake their booties like bowls full of jelly.

“After Oregon Express, everybody wants to hit the dance bars. So this year we’ve spread it out so that everyone will either go to Ned Peppers, Newcom’s or Dublin Pub,” Young said. “Dublin Pub is going to have a Santa DJ. They’ll play Christmas music – but fun, dancing Christmas music.”

Although this event is good fun for all those jolly Santas who will be celebrating Saturday night, let’s not forget the charity benefitting from all the cheer. Toys for Tots, overseen by the United States Marine Corps, distributes Christmas toys to needy children whose parents are unable to purchase presents for them.

Young said the Santa Pub Crawl is one of the biggest toy drives for Toys for Tots in Dayton and that it is a favorite of the marines who volunteer. “This is one of their most popular events,” he said. “They have a list a mile long of marines who want to volunteer.” However, only six or seven marines will get to work the event.

Young also wanted to remind prospective Santas that, although drinking alcohol is a big part of the pub crawl, no one should drink and drive. He’s blocked off a group of discounted rooms at the Crowne Plaza, so celebrators may stumble on over to the hotel instead of driving home.

Nate Mendenhall, general manager of Blind Bob’s, also expressed his excitement about this holiday event, which will no doubt bring a lot of business into his establishment.

“The Santa Pub Crawl is always a great party,” he said. “Usually, I try to snap a few pictures from our sound booth, and it’s a sea of Santa hats on people having a blast. It’s also a great fundraiser for Toys for Tots.”

If you are looking for something festive to do to get your spirits warm for the holidays, go get a $10 toy, some festive Christmas costume attire and catch a ride down to Dayton’s Oregon District on Dec. 13. Young summed it up: “It’s all in the spirit of the holidays.”

The Santa Pub Crawl will take place on Saturday, Dec. 13 beginning at 5 p.m. at Dublin Pub, 300 Wayne Ave. in Dayton. Admission to Oregon District bars is free that night for anyone wearing a Christmas-themed costume. Admission is one unwrapped $10 toy donation for Toys for Tots.

Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at

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Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at

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