OGDEN — ’Twas a month before Christmas and out in the street, 1,200 Santas gathered for a holiday track meet.
Looking like human candy canes, runners — many wearing snow white fake beards — donned identical red-and-white suits to hoof it down Washington Boulevard for the fifth annual Santa Run 5K.
The race began at 22nd Street and Washington Boulevard, continued to 28th Street and then looped back around, eventually ending on 25th Street adjacent to Ogden’s Christmas Village.
Joe Coles, the race organizer, said the event has grown since its first year when it attracted about 300 runners, compared to 1,200 who participated Saturday.
“It’s just a neat way to start Christmas,” he said, adding the race is also a great way to burn off Thanksgiving dinner calories. “You run off that (turkey dinner) stuffing.”
A portion of the proceeds from race registration fees will be donated to a local nonprofit organization. Last year, race organizers donated about $1,700 to help fund a law enforcement officers’ ball.
Saturday’s race was a yuletide spectacle, drawing large crowds of spectators to the sidewalks on each side of Washington Boulevard.
Some runners pushed baby strollers, while others ran with their dogs tethered on leashes.
A few Santas didn’t seem to sweat about winning the race and instead concentrated on handing out candy to kids who watched them jog by.
Several of the Santas added special touches to make their costumes unique.
Daren Castain, a veteran runner from Salt Lake City, said he wore a skeleton mask left over from Halloween over his Santa suit to spice up his Kris Kringle persona.
Craig Pulley, at the urging of daughters, ages 8 and 5, ditched the traditional Santa suit all together, and dressed as Buddy the Elf, from the Christmas movie “Elf” starring Will Ferrell.
“It’s a favorite (family) movie,” he said with a chuckle.
Following the race, the city kicked off its annual Holiday Electric Light Parade that went from 22nd Street to 28th Street.
The parade, which featured 43 entries, including floats, marching bands, police and fire vehicles, was estimated to have attracted about 20,000 spectators, said Carolyn Brierley, special events coordinator for the city.
Eduardo Negreros, the parade’s grand marshal selected by the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, rode aboard a fire engine and waved to the crowd.
Many in the crowd cheered as the floats rolled by.
“It’s a great family tradition,” Jennifer Grice, of Riverdale, said as she watched the procession.
Teagan Shelton, 6, of Clinton, was thrilled to see Santa in the parade.
“He’s the greatest man in the world,” she said, her eyes sparkling in the moonlight.
Following the parade, spectators were treated to fireworks and the opening of Christmas Village at the Municipal Gardens at 25th Street and Washington Boulevard.
• Sweepstakes: Swire Coca-Cola
• Best use of lights: Coast Guard Auxiliary
• Best community-based organization: The Historic 25 Association
• Best use of theme: Ogden Fire Department
• Best precision marching group: Bonneville High School drum line
• Best musical entry: Fremont High School marching band
Window decorating contest
• 1st place: Sock Monkey’n Around
• 2nd place: making scents
• 3rd place: Jack & Jills