“Come to a pub crawl in Manly, Will. Also you have to dress up in Christmas stuff. And it’s for charity.”
My good friend Allan’s final words were what sold it for me. The “Manly Santa Sunday Session” (formerly the Santa Pub Crawl) is an annual charity event to raise money for Stewart House, a children’s charity based in Curl Curl on Sydney’s northern beaches. The event’s Facebook page says “Around 1,200-2,000 attend each year”. That’s a lot of Santas, Mrs Clauses, elves and whatever Allan is (note Kirsty had red suspenders, so she was appropriately dressed too…):
The event itself was an impressive feat of coordination and scheduling (and gave me a great sense of the community among the Manly corso venues involved). $20 got you a wristband for drink and food deals at a whole host of different venues in Manly during varying time slots (most were somewhere between midday till late). That $20 also went to Stewart House. All you have to do is time your attendance at different venues with some mild coordination to avoid being swamped by hundreds of other wannabe Christmas icons and waiting hours in line for your mega skewers at Daniel San.
We begun at the Hotel Steyne Manly, which was packed full of the standard red and white uniform that would become a common sight for the rest of the afternoon, and often the impetus for high fives and nods of approval from other festive fashionistas. But after being told “no people dressed like you lot are allowed up stairs” (surely some kind of fashion discrimination, maybe fashism?) we decided to move on.
We checked out Havana Beach, a self described “buzzing beachfront cafe and lounge with colourful murals, casual Cuban bites and creative mojitos” (and on this occasion, sporting cheap tacos). I have had breakfast here before after a Spit to Manly walking session. The bar today however was overflowing with jovial Xmas patrons, mostly chanting “Here’s to Santa, he’s true blue…” etc. and seeing the struggle it was to get to a position where we could order anything we moved on to another place around the corner.
I had to leave the event early, so I finished up at the 4 Pines Manly Brewpub with its verbose, almost sommelier-esque, beer descriptions scrawled up in chalk above the flurry of bobbing white pom poms atop floppy red Christmas cones at the bar. This place was heaving too, which is a testament to the success of this charitable event.
Viva is all about events like this – it’s an incredibly fun afternoon being a part of what is effectively a bizarre, slightly tipsy rendition of a David Jones Christmas shop window (only in Manly, not Elizabeth Street), and all for a good cause too. Definitely making this an annual Sydney Christmas event!