Jingle bells rang out in Burlington, as nearly two-thousand runners in full Santa Claus get-ups raced through the streets.
The 5K run brought smiles to the faces of competitors and fans while also raising funds for a program for kids battling cancer. "We don't get any state or federal funding so it's at events like this where the community steps up to support Camp Ta-Kum-Ta that makes it possible," said the camp's Hattie Johnson.
Channel 3 caught up with competitors -- including our own Jennifer Reading -- after the race. "I'm definitely glad it's over," Reading said.
"A whole bunch of us are cops in the area, so we decided it was a really good cause and we wanted to come out as a group and do it," said Mary Polidori aka Santa.
"I had seen it from previous years and it just looked like nothing but fun," said Ed Fournier, aka Santa.
The race isn't competitive in nature but the setup is professional and carries overhead costs for suit rental and chipped timing. Competitors paid $35 to register, though that fee was waived for particularly good fundraisers, and raised more than $12,000 for Camp Ta-Kum-Ta. "Twelve-thousand dollars translates to us being able to continue our year round programs," Johnson said.
Last year 1,200 registered for Burlington's inaugural Santa 5K and this year registration maxed out just short of 2,000. University of Vermont students Brian Pellicano, Varun Gopinath and Kevin Santa-Maria didn't sign up in time, but found a way to take part. "We decided to dress as close to elves as possible and just be Santa's little helpers and go pace some of the other racers,"
Organizers say they need the number of official helpers to grow as fast as the number of racers next year. They don't anticipate having any troubles drawing more Clauses into the cause.
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