2018-12-01 / Shorts

Jolly Good

Annual Santa Crawl serves up seasonal fun ‘for a good Claus’
Kelsey Lentz

Photo courtesy Santa CrawlPhoto courtesy Santa Crawl

Each December, hundreds of people dress up like Santa Claus and roam from bar to bar in downtown State College. These holiday revelers, each of whom has purchased a $20 wristband, manage to raise about $10,000 a year just having fun. But the Santa Crawl, which will celebrate its 15th year this month, didn’t start out as a huge fundrasier.

“I never expected it to become this big,” says Larry Fall, one of the original five friends who started the annual event. “It was just five friends trying to have fun. Fifteen people said they were going to do it, but only us five showed up. A lot of people we ran into said they wish they had done it, so we told them next year would be their chance — and that’s how it became an annual thing.”

Around the fifth year, Fall says, about 60 people had signed up. While the crawl was still a casual event, the growing popularity made it necessary to have a little more order to it as the bars became packed and chaotic. So Fall and friends implemented the idea of starting on opposites sides of town and moving toward the center as the night progressed.

It wasn’t until five years ago, however, that the crawl shifted from a night of drinking to an event that was both fun and philanthropic. It was never intended to be a charitable event but Fall’s friend Keith Conlin, a former Penn State football player, had the idea of using the crawl to do something good for the community.

“I was originally just interested in having fun and didn’t want to make it this money-grabbing thing,” Fall says. “But Keith suggested that since we had so many people involved that we should do something with it.”

Pat Boland, a friend of the original crawlers and a beloved State College broadcaster, had passed away from a long battle with cancer, so when his friends and family set up the Pat Boland Memorial Internship Fund through the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, it was the perfect cause and way for the Santa Crawl to give back.

Fall started selling wristbands after speaking with local bar owners who not only agreed to waive the cover charges for crawlers but went above and beyond with their enthusiasm, some even giving out free food.

While Fall still aims for the crawl to provide people with a good time and doesn’t want to force the fundraising effort on anyone, he says if he is able to make a difference as well then he is all for it.

“It’s an opportunity for people to have fun but also give back to the community,” Fall says. “I’m also all for doing whatever I can do to make downtown a fun experience for everyone.” •SCM

The 15th annual Santa Crawl
benefiting the Pat Boland Memorial Internship Fund
Dec. 8 at 8 p.m.

Crawlers can purchase $20 wristbands, which waive all cover charges and benefit the Pat Boland Memorial Internship Fund, at various local establishments — check the list at

The traditional starting point is Cafe 210 West as well as Federal Taphouse and Primanti Bros. Crawlers are then encouraged to venture to any of the 20 participating bars every hour, working their way toward the middle of town.

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