IMAGINE celebrating Christmas without being mauled by mall masses or drowning in debt.
Mike "Scoats" Scotese, Mayfair's master of mayhem, is readying his Grey Lodge Pub for Sunday's "Festivus for the rest of us" - a bare aluminum-pole "tree," non-Olympic "Feats of Strength," the "Airing of Grievances" and the singing of cockeyed carols.
Scotese plans to debut "I Saw Daddy Punching Santa Claus" in the mix with Grey Lodge classics like "Frothy the Snowman."
Festivus, inspired by an epic "Seinfeld" episode, will be celebrated from 6 to 9 p.m. at the craft-beer oasis on Frankford Avenue near Robbins Street.
Scotese, 49, could not remember the precise birth of Festivus.
His pal Donny Smith, president of the Mayfair Civic Association, said, "Usually, these ideas pop up after we've been sitting around the Grey Lodge for a while.
"As the night goes on," Smith said, "you get more loosened up. That's when ideas happen."
Smith laughed and said, "You don't want to spend any time in my brain."
Last Festivus, at the "Airing of Grievances," Smith pinch-hit for Joe DeFelice, chairman of the Mayfair Community Development Corp., who couldn't make it that night.
Smith said, "On behalf of Joe DeFelice, I can't stand it when everybody sings, 'Happy birthday, cha-cha-cha.' "
Smith was glad to help fellow activist DeFelice. "I mean," he deadpanned, "that 'cha-cha-cha' thing just drove him nuts."
Scotese said: "I complained about gravity. It's always breaking things and making me pick stuff up off the floor."
Festivus' "Feats of Strength" are highlighted by the "mug of pennies" competition.
"You hold a big mug filled with pennies and keep your arm out straight," Smith said.
"You'd think these huge guys could hold it out there forever," he said, "but as time goes on, the mug gets heavier, and people kind of roll over with it. One guy fell."
Last Festivus, Scotese said, "Andrew Jardel balanced a bar stool on his chin. It was a Festivus miracle that he didn't get seriously hurt. I heard he's a juggler. Semiprofessional."
Art McKee, a Grey Lodge regular, tried to define the joy of Festivus. "You can't get your picture taken with an unadorned aluminum pole anywhere else," he said.
McKee discovered the Grey Lodge Pub years ago when, he said, "it was a nasty, smoky, old-man's bar with red plastic booths, all cracked."
He said Scotese turned it into a craft-beer oasis, tiled the bathroom walls with mosaics of wild colors and pithy sayings, and created events like Festivus for his offbeat patrons.
"Scoats definitely marches to the beat of his own drum," McKee said. "The Grey Lodge is not what I'd call a sports bar. It's more like the Land of Misfit Toys."
Grey Lodge Pub built its rep on craft beers, its human re-enactment of Groundhog Day and its "Majestic Lodgedales" - four guys wearing horse heads and cardboard hooves, pulling a beer wagon at Mayfair parades.
Smith, who has been a Majestic Lodgedale, said there are two main qualifications:
"You have to have a spirited personality - and your head's got to fit the horse mask."