They punked the media. They punked the cops. They punked themselves. The red tide of Santacon debauchers pouring into Washington County on Saturday—an event predicted everywhere from WW to NPR's All Things Considered—turned out to be a ruse, designed to divert attention from the Portland Cacophony Society's 250 downtown-Portland Kringles Saturday, Dec. 6, and the even larger crowd expected to return this Saturday, Dec. 13. Only about 75 Santas showed up at All Star Sports Lounge in downtown Hillsboro at noon, and that number trickled off as the evening's Santa Death March wound its way along the MAX Blue Line, stopping at such vibrant nightspots as Friends Cafe & Pub in Beaverton, a Nike office-park diner that sometimes hosts karaoke. (It was not hosting karaoke Saturday night.) The increasingly fatigued old elves—"There's nothing out here!" one moaned—were met at every stop by a squad car of Hillsboro police officers, who had been assigned to follow 50 people and observe them drinking in bars. The prank on the suburbs was inspired, in concept—in practice, it translated to "getting drunk in the middle of nowhere." It was, in short, lame. Along with a gibe at the gullible, this year's Santacon provided an unintended object lesson: It is not possible to party ironically.