Yes, Virginia, there are 475 Santa Clauses, but they won’t be coming “right down Santa Claus Lane;” instead, they’ll be running down Rochester’s North Broadway as part of the Santas on the Run 5K.
Last December, along with hundreds of other red and white-clad participants, I joined the fun. My friends Becca Combs-Cawley, Katie Krueger, Eric Straubmuller and I played Christmas carols before and after.
If your Christmas spirit is waning, there is nothing quite like having hundreds of jingling Santas listening to your clarinet, sax, trombone, and Christmas light-bedecked “Bluesaphone” quartet playing “O Christmas Tree,” and then moments later having Ronald McDonald pump everyone up to run through a giant, inflated Santa arch.
“My husband Wally and I thought an all Santa run would be a fun addition to the winter running calendar,” says Peg Arnold, the race’s co-director. “It’s a winter race that is actually a walk/run which opens it up to all: families, groups, runners, and walkers. The free Santa suit is an added bonus.”
This Saturday, the race starts near A Child’s Kingdom at 1621 North Broadway and utilizes the trail system, with a brief jaunt on Broadway. It’s sponsored by Med City Events, Scheels and A Child’s Kingdom. Arnold says, “Scheels is the sponsor for all the Med City events that Wally and I put on…when we approached them with the Santas on the Run idea, they loved it as much as we did!” Arnold owns A Child’s Kingdom, and has tapped into its ideal location near the running and biking trail for the event.
“It’s fun to run by people on the trail while wearing the suit,” says Matt Drucker, one of last year’s running Santas. Breanna Zabel, another running Santa who teaches 4th and 5th grade at Rochester Arts and Science Academy, says, “The whole race was pretty memorable. A bunch of my co-workers ran it, and it was fun to see them in a [Santa] costume. I felt like people were friendly and good humored, which makes for a nice atmosphere.”
“It’s so family friendly and for a good cause,” says Katie Kruger, the saxophonist from my caroling quartet. The good cause she refers to is the race’s contributions to the Ronald McDonald House. Arnold says, “We believe in the Ronald McDonald House’s mission and chose to work with them as we have a soft spot for all children.” According to Arnold, the race contributed $2,700 last year.
Why should you run the race? Arnold puts it this way: “It’s fun, low pressure, you get a Santa suit, there is free hot chocolate, cookies, s’mores, music and a lot of laughter!”
My favorite part of the race was working on my Santa-like “bowl full of jelly” by roasting a few marshmallows over the crackling fire awaiting at the finish line, and I’m looking forward to doing it all over again this year.
I am Santa, and that’s how I run.