PHILADELHIA (CBS) – If you see thousands of people dressed in Santa suits running around Philadelphia December 12th, you’re not going crazy.

The Running of the Santas is coming back to town.

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“It’s an event that’s been around since 1998,” explains organizer Matt McDermott. “It started with 40 guys dressed in Santa suits and jumped from bar to bar to bar. It quickly caught on, so we decided to create a festival experience for everybody with two main venues.”

Those venues are the ‘South Poll’ which is the new Lollies Ale House (formerly McFadden’s in Northern Liberties) where things get underway, and the ‘North Pole’ which is the Electric Factory.

“We ask everybody to start the day down at Lollies where they’ll have a tent, live bands,” says McDermott. “And then at 5 p.m. the Santas will come out of the tents and bars and meet on 3rd and Spring Garden and run to the Electric Factory where we have live music the rest of the day and then we also have a huge heated tent out there in one of the parking lots.”

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This year’s headliner is Mr. Greengenes, who will be holding their reunion show at the event. Lead Singer Bryen O’Boyle says this is the first time they’re playing together since 2013:

“I had always thought that Mr. Greengenes would probably do a reunion show at some point. I didn’t know when, I didn’t know what would be the right time. I talked to the guys and we felt that it was the right time and it was the perfect event for us to do our reunion show because it’s in our home town and we used to play Running of the Santas events a long time ago when they weren’t this big, so this is going to be fun.”

He says Mr. Greengenes shows always provide an incredible atmosphere, but this one will be extra special:

“When you add that on top of the intensity of a Running of the Santas event, everybody’s all decked out in holiday gear, they are amped up from the beginning because the event starts earlier in the day, and by the time we start, people are all ready to go, so it’s like a clash of the titans.”

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“We really wanted these guys,” McDermott adds, “because when they retired, 7,000 people showed up for their last show, so we wanted to bring them back years later and say lets hit the stage and get them excited again.”

McDermott says between the music and all the festivities, the Running of the Santas has something for everyone:

“It’s a broad range, so with our music selection we have everything from classic rock with our band LeCompt, to Mr. Greengenes who has been around for 20 plus years, and then we have the newer age with Gypsy Wisdom, Garden State Radio, Laura Lea , Tripp Fabulous and Scott’s New Band, so we understand there’s a younger crowd there, but we also have those that have been doing this event since the late 90’s and come back every year.”

He says an event like this really makes the spirit of the holidays better:

“Very rarely can you go to an event with this many people and everybody is dressed as Santa Claus or they’re dressed as a chicken with a Santa hat. It just makes it for a really light-hearted, fun day.”

The ‘South Pole’ opens at 10 a.m.

For more information and to purchase tickets go to

A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Ellie Koerner Leukemia Foundation and the That Others May Live Foundation.

As for the Mr. Greengenes reunion, O’Boyle says this is a one time deal.

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