Hundreds of Santas lined Center street in Provo on Saturday to compete in the Utah Santa Run 5k preceding the Parade of Lights.
Red suits, belts, beards and hats swept downtown Provo in a flash flood of Santas as they ran three times around the Provo Tabernacle Temple block. Little helpers, dressed as elves, passed out milk and cookies to the runners as they jogged to Christmas music.
“My favorite part about this race is the beginning when the sea of red suits comes down the street,” said Christina Mitchell, a Provo resident who watched the race. “I can’t help but feel the holiday cheer with so many Santas looking so jolly.”
Runners received a full Santa suit, pictures at the race, milk and cookies for the $35 admission. Kids and dogs ran free as long as they dressed the part. Santa suits were required to participate. Some dogs were dressed in full costume, complete with beards, while another dressed as a reindeer accompanied the Grinch.
“My brother has been wearing his Santa suit all day,” said Laura Frank, an Orem resident. “I’m not sure he would have run a 5K in December if it weren’t for the fun of being in the Santa race.”
According to race organizer and creator Joe Coles, the race has a unique allure that attracts runners. Running in costume presents a challenge and some of the runners were discarding their beard and other parts of the costume on the side of the road as they ran.
“Running in costume is always a challenge, but a fun experience,” said Michelle Johnson who competed in the race. “By the end of the race the inseam of my pants had come un-stitched, and the costume was hotter than I imagined.”
Spectators who lined the streets of downtown Provo were treated to front row seats of the Parade of Lights following the run. The downtown Christmas lights were unveiled following the parade.