In the late Fall of 2004 I got wind of the annual mischief massive known as SantaCon--a mob of people dressed and acting as Santa, related, and unrelated characters, roaming the city on a day-long pub-crawl and street party, 2 weeks before Christmas. In 2004, its 8th year in New York City, Santa was about 500 strong, but by 2012 had grown to tens of thousands.
Due to its somewhat illicit nature the organizers don't publish the route nor the location of the initial meeting point, and after that the horde is just marauding all around the city. My then girf was going out of town that day and I had to see her off, so I was going to miss the kick-off, and by the time I would be available Santa could be anywhere and I wouldn't know how to find him. None of my friends at the time were interested in this madness, so I placed an ad on CL/AP for someone to be my inside man, i.e. someone who would be with Santa when I needed to find him, whom I could call for a live location report.
A young lady named Mary answered, we traded numbers, and at around 2 pm on Santa Day, using her phone reports from in the fray and directions from bewildered strangers on the street I zeroed in on and joined the Santa Con'.
This was the first of the so-called nonsense events that would later become a staple, a way of life, and comprise the many of the dangled threads.