SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The on again- off again tradition known as SantaCon appears to be on again with some limitations.
Plans to have a big costume contest and a sing-a-long have been called off. The reason, the city says the Macy's Tree and the ice-rink are already there, and SantaCon simply applied for a permit too late.
In the days leading up to the Christmas holiday revelers dress up as Saint Nick and take to the streets of San Francisco as part of SantaCon.
Organizers say it's all about fun, part pub crawl, part toy drive, gathering gifts for Toys for Tots. But, this year San Francisco's Santas almost got a lump of coal.
Just last week, Santa Tom, the organizer of the San Francisco SantaCon, posted a notice saying the celebration, set for December 8, had been canceled.
His statement read in part, "The City and County of San Francisco has decreed that in their view, SantaCon has no place in San Francisco and the gathering should be shut down because 'there is a safety issue and Union Square cannot hold the people.'"
San Francisco Recreation And Parks say they only received notice about plans to host as many as 17,000 Santas last Wednesday, just three and a half weeks before the planned date.
Too little notice and too many people all shoehorned into Union Square.
"We already have two events booked at Union Square, the Macy's great tree and the ice rink. So, it just wasn't possible for us to permit them," said Tamara Aparton from SF Rec and Parks.
Just 18 minutes after the first post, Santa Tom reversed himself posting, "SantaCon is not canceled! The only thing canceled is my participation in organization efforts."
Santa Tom said the planned costume contest and sing-a-long are off, but encouraged people to still show up dressed for the holiday.
San Francisco Rec and Parks said they would move to block any efforts to bring a sound system into Union Square.
But, as for canceling Santa Con: "I don't even believe we have the power to cancel SantaCon. We are certainly not trying to do that," said Aparton.
The city saying with more notice, they'd be happy to find a new North Pole where the Santas can sing.
"We'd love to work with them in the future, to make sure that their event is one where everyone stays safe. We just unfortunately didn't have time this year," said Aparton.
The city said it can't and won't stop people from showing up here and dispersing throughout the city as part of the SantaCon. They'll just have to do it without a sound system.
KTVU did reach out to Santa Tom repeatedly, but never heard back.