By Darlene Carey and Jeffery L. Carey, Jr.
On Dec 1, under threat of rain, close to 1400 “Santas” participated in the ninth annual Santa Run in downtown Flint. The runners were all ages with a children’s quarter mile Reindeer Race kicking off the event, followed by the 5k Santa Run and a one-mile fun run.
The 5k Run/Walk is an untimed event sponsored by Al Serra Auto Plaza through Downtown Flint. A five-piece Santa suit that includes a hat, beard, belt, jacket, and pants is included in the registration.
The threat of rain may have accounted for somewhat fewer runners than last year, Bailey said, “But the rain held off and we were really happy with the turnout.”
The annual Santa Run in Flint averages 1800 to 2000 runners. “Each year it gets bigger,” Bailey said, While the weather was a “negative influencer” this year, organizers are not deterred. Next year, the event’s tenth anniversary, will include some ” really special things” and planners hope to hit 2500 runners.
“We had roughly 50 kids for the Reindeer Race and officially kicked off the holiday season,” stated YMCA Director of Fundraising and Public Relations, Pam Bailey. While there were far more children who ran the Santa Race, only children under the age of 12 could participate in this event.
One family participating in the event was the Rademacher family. Runners Amanda Rademacher, a graduate of Western Michigan University and husband Ryan Rademacher, a graduate of Grand Valley State. described their history of running. “We met at a track meet in college,” Amanda said.
Now the couple is working to encourage the love of running for their three-year-old son, Brady. “We want to get him started with running young,” Ryan said, “and this is a good way to introduce him to it.”
While many of the runners are from Flint, many also come from all over mid Michigan. “A lot of the school districts bring kids to run who are involved in the after school programs and who get our members rates,” Bailey said.
“This is an opportunity for kids to get out and be downtown Flint,” stated Rankin Elementary Principal Laura Garrison, who brought 12 of her kids. “Be physical. Fun is what it’s all about.”
Each year the Santa Run helps raise more than $35,000 to help youth and families in the Flint community.
To win the fastest Santa competition, the winner must be wearing the Santa suit pants, jacket and hat when crossing the finish line. Strollers, wagons, children and dogs are welcome.
The run also featured the Flint Arrowhead Barbershop Chorus. The group sang Christmas songs outside the YMCA to help runners get in the holiday spirit. Sixteen sponsors and four “in kind” donors provided coffee, milk and cookies, a Santa Workshop and race services.
EVM staff writer Darlene Carey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. EVM staff writer Jeffery L. Carey, Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.