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Annual ‘Santa Crawl’ Hits Decade Milestone
Santa Crawl organizers Saundra Sward, left, and Lana Casey were joined at the 2018 event by Oakdale Mayor JR McCarty; this year’s festivities are scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 1. Photo Contributed

The kick off to the holiday season will be in full swing and merriment as Lana Casey and Saundra Sward bring the Santa Bar Crawl to the Oakdale community for the tenth consecutive year.

The annual event will be hosted on Sunday, Dec. 1. Check in begins at 10:30 a.m. at H-B Salon and the buses are scheduled to depart at 11 a.m.

This year the “crawl” will visit Ryderz, Cow Track, Firenze’s, Battered Beaver and conclude at the H-B. Pre-paid tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased at Lana’s Spur of the Moment, 415 E. F St., Oakdale or call 209-535-3950.

Proceeds from the event each year go to a chosen organization, charity or non-profit. This year’s beneficiaries will be Pacific Project Heroes Scholarship, as well as Spirit of Oakdale.

According to Casey, the idea for the annual event first came to the two women while hosting the “High Heel Express” 11 years ago. That was another fundraising endeavor which loaded a bus of ladies and toured them through San Francisco for some shopping fun.

During this time, the women happened upon a Santa Crawl, San Francisco-style. Casey shared over 400 people were outfitted in their Santa/Holiday attire traveling from pub to pub.

“It wasn’t a fundraiser,” she recalled, “but I said we’ve got to do that.”

And so they did and with plenty of success. Hosted each year on the Sunday following Thanksgiving, the event packs one to two buses with anywhere from 90 to 150 people.

“We encourage them to come dressed up,” Casey said of attendees. “We give a best dressed couple award, male, female the whole bit. “It’s not an ugly sweater. People really dress up. Everybody goes all out.”

As if the attire weren’t enough, participants are each given a wrist band at check-in, identifying them as Santa Bar Crawl members. At each stop they are required to purchase a beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) from the hosting establishment. In turn, the stops each provide hors d’oeuvres for their guests.

Casey also shared her pride in the responsibility of attendees each year. According to the organizer, participants each year have been responsible by way of arranging rides home or selecting a designated driver.

“It’s a good day for the community and a good day for the businesses,” she said.

The bus which is hired to tour participants to the locations concludes its service at the Battered Beaver, creating a sort of “parade” as the group walks from the fourth location to the H-B Saloon.

“You can’t believe the people honking at everybody. Seeing everyone dressed up,” Casey said, chuckling, noting they partner with Oakdale Police Department each year to ensure there are no problems and a good time is had by everyone. “It’s just incredible.”

As for the ultimate payback for the event, aside from the funds raised Casey said, “Just seeing everybody have a good time for a common cause. Saundra and I both.”