This post originally was published more than 10 years ago and might or might not reflect my current views.

Despite living in Portland for 5 1/2 years, and San Francisco for 14 months prior to that, I had never managed to actually catch these cities’ respective mass Santa excursions. Until this year. Until December 14th.

In my search for a specific sort of toy for a 22-month-old I know, I had unfortunately ended up at Pioneer Place Mall. On my way out of the building, my attention was caught by what appeared to be an endless throng of Santas snaking its way through the mall. Having forgotten about the annual tradition, it didn’t occur to me for a minute or so that I was finally witnessing the Portland Cacophony Society in full Yuletide action.

The swarm ascended the escalators, the prime location in Pioneer Place to be seen by nearly everyone. About 30 seconds after the final Santa had risen to the top floor, a lone, young, bald (in an “I’m a punk but here on my shitty day job” sort of way) security guard began bounding up the escalator, failing to avoid at least one Santa-launched paper streamer, which landed squarely upon his head.

It was impossible to tell, once they had all reached the top floor, just where they headed next. And since I was finished with downtown shopping, it was time to head to the bus mall.

I should have realized at the time that it wasn’t quite over just yet. Not only had I finally bore witness to SantaCon, but there was a punchline still to come.

Standing at the bus shelter for the #4 Division (across the street from Ross), I tried to avoid the street preacher who had been seated behind the shelter and was now gathering his things to wait for the bus.

From somewhere in the northern distance came the clear yet cluttered sounds of “Ho, ho, ho!”

Sure enough, the Santas had finally fled the confines of Pioneer Place and had taken to the streets. They were, of course, headed straight for us. Somehow, out on the sidewalks, they appeared to be greater in numbers than they had inside the mall.

They streamed directly down the bus mall, directly towards the bus shelter. That’s when the street preacher saw them, just as the #4 Division pulled up.

“Satan Claus! Satan Claus!” he shouted. “It’s about Jesus!”

But the legions of Portland Cacophony Society Santas simply poured down the sidewalk, going about their Merry Christmas way.