It all started with an ugly Christmas sweater.
That was the theme of a holiday party Alex Spearman was throwing in 2014.
But Spearman knew something was missing: an audience.
“It wouldn’t be the same without everybody seeing our festive outfits,” he explained. “And then it just kind of involved into, ‘Let’s do some Christmas caroling.’ ”
Spearman, however, wasn’t content with old-fashioned door-to-door singing. He’s a man who thinks big.
And so, the 2017 iteration of Spearman’s now-annual event began the night of Dec. 15, when about 30 people gathered at the businessman’s Old Town Tacoma home.
They soon piled into a limo bus and headed for Salty’s at Redondo Beach. Before the night was out, they flash mobbed the Time Out Alehouse in Federal Way, Stack 571 in Ruston, El Gaucho in Tacoma and three other restaurants.
In their wake, they left bemused patrons and maybe, just maybe, a little Christmas cheer.
“This year was, by far, the most welcoming,” Spearman said. “They were taking videos. They clapped. We didn’t have one really bad reception.”
Spearman and longtime girlfriend/co-host Cotton Clarke don’t tell restaurants they’re coming.
“If you call the restaurant and said, ‘Hey, we want to come and Christmas carol,’ they’d say, ‘No way,’ ” Spearman said.
The first year didn’t go so smoothly.
“We flash mobbed a restaurant and got kicked out,” Clarke said.
“We said, ‘Screw it. We’re going back in,’ ” Spearman added. “We sang ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and then we departed.”
It’s easy to see why the group’s arrival — garish outfits, loud singing — might unnerve the managers of a sedate restaurant.
But the patrons, Spearman said, embrace it.
“You’re singing fun songs — it’s Christmas,” he said. “You’re not there long. You’re not going to disrupt their whole meal.”
The group is kind of a SEAL Team Six of Christmas caroling. Each caroler knows where to stand — Spearman has already briefed them on each restaurant’s layout. They’re in and out in five minutes.
“We barge through the door,” Spearman said. “I have a megaphone that I go in with, screaming, ‘Merry Christmas’ to everybody. Everybody loves it. How can you not?”