Reno Santa Crawl
10 Things to Know Before You Go Ho, Ho, Ho!
BY NEVADA MAGAZINE
The Reno Santa Crawl is one of those special events that give Reno its character. Each year, thousands of Santas descend on the streets of downtown, spreading holiday cheer, raising money for charity, and taking advantage of some killer drink specials. This year’s event takes place Saturday, Dec. 10, and once again welcomes participants from near and far to get in on the action.
We compiled this list as a guide for first-timers and seasoned crawlers alike. There is absolutely a right and a wrong way to do the Santa Crawl. Use this guide and don’t end up as Ebenezer Scrooge.
NEWBIES: YOU DON’T REALLY CRAWL
If you’ve never been to the Reno Santa Crawl, the pictures can be intimidating and enticing. A crawl is like a wine walk, if that helps. You visit local bars and establishments, purchase discounted drinks, and generally share the spirit of the season with 15,000 of your (soon-to-be) closest friends. There are more than 50 bars that participate, so which ones you visit is up to you, your pace, your alcohol tolerance, and what fun you find along the way. Plan ahead or just get out there and let the holiday cheer lead you.
CUPS, MAPS, & WHAT TO DO WITH THEM
The single most important part of participating in the Reno Santa Crawl is purchasing a cup and map. These vital crawl items are available at every participating bar, but each has a limited amount, so be sure to get your cups fast. Cups are used to receive drink specials at participating bars, while maps take you to each one. Chocolate Walrus, Junkee Clothing Exchange, and Adam & Eve (both in Reno and Carson City) all have plenty of cups for sale, and can be great spots to pick up costumes, as well.
DECK OUT YOUR HALLS
Though attendees will see enough Santa costumes to make heads spin, participants don’t necessarily have to dress as St. Nick. Many choose elf, Grinch, and other holiday themes, and cheery Darth Vader has even been known to make an appearance or two. Just have fun with it. Reno and Sparks have many thrift shops and second-hand stores, which can all be great spots to find a deal on a Santa Crawl costume.
DO IT RIGHT
With thousands of people attending the crawl, downtown Reno hotels can fill up fast. Silver Legacy is the official hotel for the 2016 crawl, and booking a room there may be your best bet. The hotel is offering deluxe rooms for suites Thursday-Sunday nights. Staying at the Silver Legacy qualifies guests to be selected for a special Santa Crawl surprise, which includes VIP passes that allow lucky winners to jump in lines at participating bars. Guests can also purchase their commemorative cups while reserving their rooms, and can pick them up at check-in.
One of the coolest things about the Santa Crawl is being a part of the photo under the arch. Each year, thousands of crawlers gather underneath the Reno arch for a picture that has become an iconic part of the event. Though the time that the photo will be taken has not been officially decided for the 2016 event, it is usually between 10 p.m. and midnight. The official time is often printed on the bar map.
A SPECIAL GIFT
Besides the obvious reasons you should buy a cup and map (support local schools), all participating bars offer cool drink specials that keep you warm for cheap. Some bars offer discounted traditional drinks like domestic drafts and mixed drinks, while others offer more-colorful creations. Some 2015 favorites included Whitney Peak’s Toffee Apple (Captain Morgan, apple juice, & ginger ale), Pizza Reno’s Blue Snowflake Shots (Vanilla Vodka, Blue Curacao, & Sierra Mist), and Brew Brothers’ Hot Santa (Fireball & Brew Brothers Red Head Amber).
DON’T BE A LUMP OF COAL
Dressing and behaving like a naughty Santa and Mrs. Claus is fine, but don’t be bad Santas. While the Reno Police Department is out in force, they are there to make sure participants are safe as well as well behaved. Last year, only 15 crawlers were arrested out of the estimated 15,000 participants. So use public bathrooms when needed, don’t throw marshmallows or any projectiles (yes, seriously), and keep all elfish behavior appropriate. Oh and in the true spirit of giving, if you see a Santa who shouldn’t be driving, help them find a cab.
Food and water are essential components of the crawl; nobody likes a sick Santa. While there might be food at some bars, make sure to start your night with a good meal. All downtown casinos have restaurants, from fancy steakhouses to coffee shops, or you could hit local favorites such as Silver Peak Brewery, China Diner, Gold N’ Silver Inn, Wild River Grille, Noble Pie Parlor, or Pho 777 Vietnamese Restaurant. And don’t forget to hydrate, all night long.
GIVE ‘TIL IT HURTS
While undoubtedly one of the best parties in Reno, the Santa Crawl is above all else, a charity fundraiser for Reindeer Games, a 501c3 organization. All proceeds from the Santa Crawl go to local schools. In order for the gift giving (more than $200,000 to date) to continue, make sure you buy your official cups and patronize the official bars so all proceeds can get to the schools and kids who need them. The event is free to attend, but ‘tis the time to give, right?
DON’T BE A FASHION VICTIM; LEAVE THE REINDEER AT HOME
Now that you’re a crawl expert, some super-insider tips to make the night even better. When creating your costume, consider your feet; the crawl locations span a lot of land, so you’re going to do a fair bit of walking. Unless you want to end up actually crawling, stick to sensibly fun shoes. Lastly, while your tiny dog may make the perfect Max from “The Grinch” this is no place for pets. Too cold, too many people, and too many health code violations are just a few of the reasons it’s best to leave furry friends at home. Santa will thank you.
GET IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT