For the organiser of the Santa Claus Pub Crawl for Charity, Neil Webster, the event is a personal crusade against alcohol-fuelled violence and emphasises that while it is a pub crawl, it is becoming more family friendly. New venues have been added where the children are able to dress up and participate in a safe environment.
Neil says, "We're trying to encourage venues to come on board and promote the activity and the responsible service of alcohol with some Christmas spirit."
The Roads and Maritime service have been enlisted this year to assist and station helps at a variety of points throughout the CBD in Wollongong to ensure that people are either walking safely between particpating venues or are catching one of the six shuttle buses that are available exclusively for the event.
Last year almost $50,000 was raised for the Salvation Army and the money was put toward breakfast programmes and counselling for children in families that are affected by drugs and alcohol in the local Illawarra area.
Neil's motivation is to make positive change and have people take a fun and sensible attitude towards partying at Christmas. In 1997, he himself was set upon by a group of drunken men on Christmas Eve after leaving a venue in Hurstville.
For each year that he sees this enomous group of people (10 000 last year) come together and socialise without throwing a punch, it is a resounding victory.
"For me, I know I've made a change over the years. The assault spurred me to change the way people behave with alcohol, especially at Christmas time. We like to have a drink and socialise, but there's no need to drink to the point of fighting. Go home safely and wake up Christmas morning knowing you've done something for the community and you've made a change in other people's lives."
There should be more people like you Neil Webster ...
Source : ABC News, 11 December 2014