Duncan streets will be full of Santas on Sunday, Dec. 6 as the Run for the Claus fundraiser returns.
Organizer Alan Crisp introduced the idea in the Valley a couple of years ago after seeing it in Britain.
“I was on vacation in England five or six years ago and a friend of mine asked me to sponsor him in it. He was going to dress up in a Santa suit. I thought it was a great idea. Then I realized there are quite a few cities all over the world that take on that fun run,” he said.
So, he brought the concept to the Cowichan United Way and it proved to be a popular idea, though it was shelved last year.
“I think they were going through a few changes there and at that particular point it wasn’t going to work out for them.”
Crisp and a group of friends and family decided to take on the project themselves this year.
“We picked a charity of choice, the Clements Centre, and got going. We’ve got just a 100 per cent support from them. We asked them to handle the registration for us while we looked after the event ourselves. It’s worked out for us really well,” he said.
The 2015 Run for the Claus will follow the same format as in the past, starting on Sunday, Dec. 6, with activities and entertainment beginning at Duncan’s City Square at about 10 a.m. and the run/walk itself taking off at 11 a.m.
“People can come and mingle, get a hot drink (by donation). They can register on the day but preferably we’d like to have them register at the Clements Centre beforehand. It would be great if we sold all our Santa suits and didn’t have to worry too much about registration on the day. We know how many suits we’ve got so we’ll either sell out or have a few left over for next year.”
And sell out they might.
“I think we’re up to about 100 sold already,” Crisp said.
It’s $20 per person to enter.
The suits are one size fits all. Kids will probably just wear the top but that just adds to the humour of the day.
Onstage at City Square, starting about 9:30 a.m., there will be music and, just before everyone heads out, there’s a fun aerobic warm-up with everyone doing their stretches in their red suits.
“I think the energy of having that many Santas in one area is kind of neat,” Crisp said.
The runners will leave City Square and run for six kilometres along the Friendship Trail following Canada Avenue and Alington Road over to Lane Road, then back down Sherman Road and along the Trail to City Square.
Walkers have a simpler three and a half kilometre route; they leave City Square and travel the Friendship Trail following Canada Avenue and Alington to a turning point marked by a Christmas tree, then retrace their steps the same way to downtown Duncan.
“We’ve kind of kept the walkers on the flat part, so for people who are pushing chairs or strollers, it will be easier,” he said.
“We’ve contacted the auxilliary RCMP, we’ve got the Rotary Club marshalling and keeping everyone safe.”
The event is pet-friendly, too.
“We’ve had dogs dressed up in Santa suits. Dogs are welcome but they need to be kept under control.”
Crisp is still trying to figure out the best name for the event.
“It’s not a run or race. It’s just a fun time out for the community. There are always one or two that just sprint around it and that’s fine, too, but nobody is noting the times. Walks, shuffles, they’re all fine,” he said.