For a dozen years, the Santa Monica Pub Crawl had made its way to the Westside for the holidays, and organizers don’t intend to let COVID-19 ruin this year’s fun.

The 12th annual Santa Monica Pub Crawl returns from 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, to spread some much-needed holiday cheer this year but the popular program will utilize a new virtual and social-distanced experience, which organizers said will evoke the same spirit of crawls from years prior and still allow residents to support local restaurants, all while they comply with the recently instituted safer-at-home orders.

The Pub Crawl has been popular since its inception back in 2008 when there were only about eight bars participating. Since then, organizer Kim Koury said, the crawl has expanded to offer four different routes that will lead locals to approximately 40 different bars in Santa Monica.

“It really supported all of the bars and every bar said it was their busiest night of the year and it helped them through December,” Koury said as she detailed how the event has been just as important to the locals who have regularly attended.

“I have been here for 18 years and I wanted to create something where you saw people on the streets, all together, spreading joy and merriment,” which is exactly what occurred every year when residents hit the streets in their holiday costumes, according to Koury.

“This year, I’m like, ‘I’m not canceling this. It’s the happiest day of the year in Santa Monica so I can’t do it,’” Koury said. So, instead of walking from place to place in a pandemic, this year’s crawl is focused on encouraging takeout specials on food and drinks the entire month of December.

Crawlers will then be invited to participate in a “virtual Bar Bingo” game night via Zoom with host Brian Thomas Smith from Big Bang Theory and DJ Kooleo of Free Space Virtual Events. Of course, the 2020 Pub Crawl will still feature cocktails, games, trivia and a ton of prizes including hotel stays and gift certificates to local restaurants.

“Save your receipts because when you get on the Bingo Zoom Party on the 19th, you’ll be sent three bingo cards to your phone, and the bingo cards will have the bar logos on them. So you’re crawling but you’re virtually crawling from your phone and you’re playing games and there will be music and lots of prizes,” Koury said, sharing residents have an opportunity to win bigger prizes the more receipts they possess.

“Another cool component of this year’s crawl is we partnered with Lanea Cocktail Bar,” which is on Second and Broadway and was recently voted one of the best cocktail bars in L.A., Koury added. “This means you can buy two tickets — one is a non alcoholic ticket and the other includes a four pack of canned cocktails that they make — and you’ll get a kit with the holiday mask, and you can have it delivered if you live in Santa Monica or Venice. It’s free delivery or you can pick it up anytime, and you can order right up until (December) 19th and they’ll deliver the cocktails to your house so you can enjoy cocktails while you’re participating in the zoom party.”

Per tradition, a portion of the proceeds from the Pub Crawl will be donated to the Westside Food Bank.

“So, if you want to put on your festive holiday costume, have some cocktails and have a socially distance holiday event that’s safe and allows you to see your local community and still feel the spirit of the crawl, then this is a great way for you to give back, support businesses support the food bank, and have fun,” Koury concluded. “Some people have been attending this event since 2008 and haven’t missed one. People have emailed me and said they’ve met their husbands on the crawl and they want pictures, so it’s really near and dear to a lot of people’s hearts. And it gives back, which is needed now more than ever.”

To purchase a ticket for the upcoming Pub Crawl, visit the website santamonicapubcrawl.com/tickets/.

brennon@smdp.com