HAYWARD -- More than a hundred Santas and Mrs. Santas are planning to invade downtown Saturday, all in the name of a good cause, as part of the worldwide SantaCon.
Former City Councilwoman Anna May is one of the main forces behind the Hayward SantaCon, which started last year. The group will stop at some downtown watering holes and a wine shop, all the while collecting money for the Hayward Animal Shelter.
"We've raised over $1,000 so far this year and will be collecting more Saturday night," May said.
SantaCons have been held in San Francisco for years, but Hayward's is the only one in Alameda County that has registered at SantaCon.info. San Francisco's is Dec. 14; San Jose also is hosting a SantaCon on Saturday. Worldwide, there are 310 registered SantaCons scheduled this year in 42 countries, according to http://santacon.info.
"It's fun, and it's open to everybody, as long as they're 21," May said.
More than 100 people have indicated on Facebook that they plan to show up, but registration is not required, she said.
Hayward's SantaCon is more than just an evening spent barhopping, May said. Proceeds from the outing will help pay some adoption expenses at the city animal shelter. The money is being collected by members of F.U.N. Rotary Club.
"We want to raise awareness about the animal shelter," May said.
SantaCon was started in 1974 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The focus is on revelry, but the gatherings also raise money for charitable causes. In 2012, the 60 venues that took part in New York City donated $45,000 to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and 6,850 pounds of canned food to City Harvest.
SantaCon Hayward was not heavily advertised last year to make sure no problems occurred, May said. It turned out to be a mild group of about 40 professionals, young adults and retirees who collected $250 for the animal shelter.
This year's Hayward SantaCon will have its first "Santa Stop" at 6 p.m. at the Turf Club, 22519 Main St. It shifts to Doc's Wine Shop, 22570 Foothill Blvd., at 7. At 8, the group heads to the Bistro, 1001 B St., and then to B Street Bar & Grill, 846 B St., at 9 before returning to the Turf Club.
At each stop along the way, contests will be held for the best-dressed Santa and Mrs. Santa.
Santa outfits are not required. "But if they're not wearing a Santa hat at least, they're not going to be in our group photo," May said.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473. Follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.