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Philly's first Onesie Pajama Crawl leads to traffic jammy

A guy walks into a bar in a onesie.

A guy walks into a bar in a onesie. There is no setup, no punch line. Just a bar full of twentysomethings wearing footie pajamas.

On Saturday, about 100 participants donned their best Power Rangers, Winnie the Pooh, and penguin outfits for the first Philadelphia Onesie Pajama Crawl, an event that fused costume with revelry. Beginning at 6 p.m. at Howl at the Moon in Center City, PJ-adorned crawlers were escorted by event promoter Party America representatives to three other locations, with the evening culminating at the Raven Lounge.

Not to be confused with "furries," people enthralled by the idea of animal characters with human features who sometimes dress up like said characters, the bar crawl was for people who, more or less, enjoy drinking without the constraints of jeans.

"It's comfortable," said Kimmy Fares, dressed as Winnie the Pooh. "And why not get drunk in a onesie?" She was celebrating her birthday with four friends, also decked out in costumes.

"We all had onesies to begin with, and now we can wear them out," Lisette Marchione said.

A traveling event organized by event promoter Kevin Van Jones of Party America -- who also hosts '90s bar crawls and who is planning a onesie convention -- the Philadelphia iteration of the Onesie Bar Crawl was the first such East Coast endeavor. Previous events have been held in San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; and Denver.

Van Jones' first brush with the adult appeal of a onesie was during the holidays, when he wore a Santa-themed ensemble for three days straight. "My roommate made me change," he said.

He saw the versatility in the outfit and a market for a niche costume event beyond Halloween. A hostel manager in San Diego, Van Jones was familiar with throwing parties, so he organized the first one there. It was a success. Then he took the operation on the road, focusing on Facebook and social-media marketing to get the word out. Most participants had discovered the Philadelphia event on Facebook or through friends who had RSVP'd on the site.

Though the local turnout was the lowest of the seven cities the crawl had toured through -- most of the others had attendance of about a thousand people, Van Jones said, but rainy weather and commencement week might have hurt ticket sales -- Philly proved spirited in its embrace of the event, with plainclothes passersby yelping and applauding the parading pajama'd as they trekked through Center City.

On his way to Howl at the Moon, though, Ryan Viguers feared he might be the only one in costume. Offering moral support for a friend who was interested in the event, Viguers threw caution to the wind and bought a bear onesie at a 75 percent discount that day.

"I thought to myself, 'If I'm going to be the only idiot in a onesie, I might as well have fun with it anyway,' " he said.

Others, however, borrowed outfits from friends. Katie, who declined to give her last name, wore a red Power Rangers onesie, on loan from a pal. She wore the thing just four days before she was to jump out of an airplane at 13,500 feet.

"It will have been through way more things in the last week than it had ever been through with her," Katie said.

Given the crawl's moderate size, most participants got a chance to mingle with crews outside their own. Fares said she had three drinks bought for her -- and that wasn't even accounting the ones(ies) purchased because it was her birthday. Viguers found that sharing common ground while wearing onesies provided for a more memorable experience.

Given the current fixation on nostalgia, Van Jones' event hit millennials right in the sweet spot. Discounted booze didn't hurt, either.

"You can be anything. The onesies can be absolutely anything," Van Jones said. "People just get excited to be in a onesie."