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Weekend preview: Charismatic Santas, charming elves and ugly sweaters

While there is no shortage of irreverence attached to SantaCon, the annual march of the Kringles and their cheeky elves, the most important spirits indulged in along Las Olas Boulevard on Saturday night will not be found in a glass.

“Sure, it’s about having a good time, but we’re sincere,” says Liz Blake, one of the organizers of the Fort Lauderdale event. “That feeling of the holiday, that’s the whole point. The goal is to make people smile.”

Saturday’s parade is free — just show up as your version of Santa outside Mangos (904 E. Las Olas Blvd.) beginning at 6 p.m. The gathering will start moving at some undetermined point of critical mass, with stops at taverns on the way west toward the Himmarshee District, where America’s Backyard will host an afterparty. But don’t call it a pub crawl.

“Admittedly, it can easily regress into one, but it's important that our Santas remember it's more than that,” co-founder Daniella Bagdadi says. “Santacon is a release and escape from the stale and ordinary day, dreary societal rules and general unimaginative maturity expected of adults. Some find that release by getting smashed, but many more find it by dressing up and returning to a state of mind where it's acceptable to dress up and play and act goofy and absurd without judgment.”

Here are some recommended things to bring, courtesy of Blake, Bagdadi and fellow Santarchist and artist Keegan Hitchcock: cash for food and drink (to keep things moving at each bar); donations for Kids in Distress (gift cards for necessities and school supplies are especially helpful); your singing voice (even bad caroling will be encouraged); small toys and candy canes (to hand out to kids and adults along the way); and a generous attitude to soften the inevitable Grinches and Scrooges you meet up with.

“My favorite part of Santacon is seeing deadpan, severe-looking adults suddenly burst out into laughter when they see us coming,” Bagdadi says. More info: Here are some fashion tips:

MatzoBall trivia: What NFL star showed up at last year’s party in Boston? As you may know, these high-energy Christmas Eve events are aimed at Jewish singles ages 21 to 49, but attract their share of non-Jews, according to Andrew Rudnick, who created the MatzoBall series as a Boston college student 27 years ago, before moving to Boca Raton. The parties, sponsored by the Society of Young Jewish Professionals and JDate, take place Tuesday night at three South Florida locations: Liv at the Fontainebleau ($50), Pangaea and Gryphon at the Hard Rock in Hollywood ($30), and at Il Bacio in Delray Beach ($30).  Hit the link for more on the three South Florida MatzoBalls. Info: 561-300-4222. Answer: New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Like you need another reason to break out that Bill Cosby, here comes the Ugly Sweater Holiday Pub Crawl in Fort Lauderdale’s Himmarshee District from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday, a party that benefits the Red Hot Chili Puppies group at the Humane Society of Broward County. Headquarters are at America’s Backyard (100 SW Third Ave.), with drink specials also found at Capone’s (three-for-one Blue Moons?), Lucky’s and Off the Hookah. The event is organized by South Florida Club Sports, best known for their coed leagues devoted to kickball, soccer, softball and other sports. Tickets: $20 advance, $25 at the door, with $5 from each admission going to Red Hot Chili Puppies. Call 800-497-1852 or go to or

Local bands, burlesque dames, burlesque dudes, drinks, contortionists, carnie food, magicians, vintage bikes  and a dunk tank are mere backdrops to the real entertainment at Villa 221 on Saturday: the crowd that will gather for the inaugural Cirque du Sickos. “Anything that your mind can conjure will be there for your sensory overload experience!” the organizers warn in a Facebook shout-out for the noon-3 a.m. party. At the very least the music will be solid, with five stages filled with the likes of  Slip and the Spinouts, the Riot Act, Everymen, the Goddamn' Hustle,  Stop the Presses and Los Bastardos Magnificos, plus the striptease artistry of West Palm Beach-based Glamour Goddesses and the male revue Hurly Burly. Villa 221 is at 221 NE 17th St. in downtown Miami. Hit the link for Cirque de Sickos tickets ($12). Info:

Filmmaker and actress Antonia San Juan, a star of Pedro Almodovar’s “All About My Mother,” will attend a Miami Theater Center screening of her film “The Summer Side” (Del Lado Del Verano), an eccentric and sexy comedy (of course) set in the Canary Islands. A public reception will follow the 8 p.m. screening, sponsored by O Cinema. MTC is at 9806 NE Second Ave., in Miami Shores. Tickets: $13, $9 students/seniors, $7.50 members. Info: 786-565-3456,

Indie Craft Bazaar returns to Revolution Live in downtown Fort Lauderdale from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, with its Holiday Hooray even including more than 70 vendors, drink specials and live music from the Bows and Ties. Admission: $5. Info: 954-785-7475,

If you want to show visiting family some local music this weekend, here are some spots to try: Iko-Iko is at the Bamboo Room in Lake Worth on Friday; blues rocker Albert Castiglia is at the Bamboo Room in Lake Worth on Friday and at the Dubliner in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday; Locos Por Juana, Afro Kumbe and DJ Mr. Pauer do La Fiesta Loca on Saturday at The Stage in Miami; Jacob Jeffries plays C&I Studios in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday.

Reminder: Light Up Downtown Boca offers a free pajama-night screening of “Polar Express” on Friday in Mizner Park. Kids are invited to wear pajamas for the festivities that will include train rides, face-painting and holiday hair-braiding beginning at 5:30 p.m. Hot chocolate, popcorn, pizza and beverages will be available for purchase during the 6:30 p.m. screening, and blankets and chairs are welcome (or rent a chair for $5). Info:

"Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color?" If that line means anything to you, be at the free screening of Will Ferrell's holiday movie "Elf" at the ArtsPark in downtown Hollywood at 8 p.m. Friday. And if you think you can handle it, hit the link to try our little "Elf" quiz. Info:

Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, who are determined to restore it to its former glory, will celebrate the iconic site’s 50th anniverary with a Sunday evening party on the plaza of the  Coral Gables Museum (285 Aragon Ave.) and a screening of the Elvis Presley classic “Clambake,” which was filmed at the Marine Stadium. The party begins at 6:30 p.m. and includes servings of paella and cash-bar drinks for $5. Hit the link for tickets ($25), or go to for more information.

Christmas Eve in the City: A Service of Lessons & Carols” is the name of a unique night of classic Christmas songs and hymns organized by CityChurch on Tuesday at Lauderdale's  FAT Village at 517 NW 1st Ave. The nondenominational, multi-congregation 6 p.m. service will begin with a 5:30 p.m. pre-service concert from musicians on the local scene, including Josh Diaz from Kids, Corey Bost and Dan Diaz from Civilian. CityChurch, led by Rev. Brad Schmidt and located next to the evolving Flagler Village Community Garden, has been involved with many FAT Village events, including the garden, Better Block Fort Lauderdale and Revel on the Block. Info:

At presstime, this weekend’s performances of Seraphic Fire’s “Handel’s Messiah” in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables were sold out, but there were still tickets for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. concert at St. Gregory's Episcopal Church (100 NE Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton). Tickets: $65. Call 305-285-9060 or go to

Get daily updates on South Florida entertainment and things to do at, on Twitter at @BenCrandell and Instagram /BenCrandell.

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