Ogden kicked off the Christmas holiday with a swarm of red and white rushing down Washington Boulevard, as more than 1,100 people dressed as Santa Claus raced to the finish line of the 7th annual Santa Run on Saturday.
Although the registration fee included a Santa suit in the kit, some runners found other ways to express their creativity through their costumes.
One couple hung Christmas lights around their necks, and another was dressed as the Grinch.
“We just wanted to be festive,” said Missy Teal, a race participant from Layton.
Savanna Grotz, a WSU employee, said her favorite costumed participant was a dad who dressed as a reindeer and pulled his child in a stroller while the child wore the Santa suit through the race.
“Who doesn’t want to dress up like a Santa and run around?” Grotz asked.
Billed as a 5k, Santa Run Director Joe Coles said he got the idea from watching a Christmas show in which a bunch of people dressed as Santa ran around.
“I do it for the love of the people,” Coles said. “I thought it would be a silly, fun event, and here we are.”
The start line was at 22nd Street and Washington Boulevard. At 4:30 p.m. participants began racing down Washington Boulevard, heading for 28th Street, then turned around to finish on 25th Street.
Ruti Ol finished the race first, with a time of about 17:47, and not too far behind was Weber State University freshman Joe Weber in second place.
Weber said he likes to run in 5ks and 10ks and has participated in the Santa Run for the past four years.
“I like to run, and this is just a fun race,” Weber said.
Volunteers dressed as elves helped with the race by handing milk and cookies to participants every half mile throughout the race.
“It’s the only race where we can get milk and cookies along the way,” WSU staff member Danna Woods said. “You can gain weight while you’re running.”
The proceeds from the race this year were donated to Ogden’s Christmas Village and the Policeman’s Ball. Coles said this was a great way to have a fun event that supports the city. Coles paired his run with the Ogden Christmas Parade and the lighting of Christmas Village.
“It’s amazing when you can pair two great events,” Coles said.
When the Santa Run started seven years ago, Coles said he only had around 200 runners; now the number risen to 1,100. Coles said they originally offered race participants a T-shirt with the hopes of adding the Santa suit, but the company required an order of 1,000 suits. Years later, the event is now big enough to include Santa suits for all participants.
“It started out as a fun thing with a small group, and I’m amazed at how big it became,” said Coles.
After the race, Ogden residents watched the holiday parade. The night sky lit up with fireworks as part of the show. All of these events lead to the lighting of Ogden’s Christmas Village.
Christmas Village is located in the heart of downtown Ogden and features small cottages and buildings that were donated and created by various artists. The buildings and trees were illuminated with lights to signify the beginning of the holiday season, and there were even two purple and white trees dedicated to WSU.
“It’s a big kickoff downtown—parade, lights, it has everything,” said Emma Clark , a WSU employee.