San Juan Capistrano's Annual 'Elf Crawl' Supports Local Restaurants

San Juan Capistrano's Annual 'Elf Crawl' Supports Local Restaurants
Dressing like elves and visiting several restaurants after Christmas has become a local tradition in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. This year, participants will order take-away meals instead. (Courtesy of the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce)
Jack Bradley

San Juan Capistrano’s 10th annual Elf Crawl is looking a little different this year.

For the past decade, about 100 people dressed in elf attire would stop by San Juan Capistrano restaurants the day after Christmas for happy hour and food specials, in an event organized by the Southern California city’s chamber of commerce.

This year, participants will order to-go meals instead from their favorite local restaurants, beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 26.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than gathering in a pub crawl-style event, residents are asked to take pictures of themselves ordering takeout in their costumes and post them on an Elf Crawl Facebook page.

“Elf Crawl started 10 years ago as kind of a joke and to keep our restaurants going between Christmas and New Years,” organizer Jennifer Pointer told The Epoch Times via email.

“In 2006 my husband purchased elf costumes for my daughter (then about 10 months old) and himself for the San Juan Capistrano Christmas Tree Lighting to have fun. After that, we wondered what to do with these costumes. So in 2011, my friend Randi Peshkin and I decided we should do a pub crawl in elf costumes and the event was born.”

Pointer said the crawl typically gathered about 100 people, including some out-of-towners who might extend their stay an extra day to take part in the event.

“I have met wonderful folks from all over,” Pointer said.

The elves visit to six to eight locations, and in previous years played elf trivia, had costume contests, sang elf karaoke, and more.

“Last year was great,” Pointer said. “Elf line dancing at Hennessey's Tavern was one of the highlights.”

Pointer said the chamber of commerce will be promoting an elf crawl in June make up for this year's change.

Most participating restaurants are family and pet friendly.