[Photos: David & Cynthia Fender/CPR]
The town of Breckenridge kicked off the holiday season last Saturday with its 2nd annual “Race of the Santas.” Colorado Public Radio’s David Fender was there and brings back this audio postcard:
Transcript of David's report:
Reporter, David Fender: A day dedicated to the start of the Christmas season in the resort town is very unseasonal with temperatures in the 40s and no snow to speak of on the ground. Still, as Christmas carolers sing on main street, a few hundred Santas of all shapes and sizes line up to sign in for the event: [:17]
Eric, from Breckenridge: “My Santa suit is ‘Pimp Daddy Santa.' I think that Santas need to be encompassed for everybody. There’s Santas for the kids and then there’s Santas for the adults.”
Kyle and Mindy Armstrong, from Breckenridge: “We are the Bronco Santas, representing Bronco spirit. We want to be a little different than normal, make the fans proud.”
Charles, from Frisco: “Sort of a Rasta Santa thing going on here. The standard suit with long hair down to my waist, and a beard, and some mardis gras beads."
Anthony Nance, from Breckenridge: “This is built on pure speed right here. I got the aerodynamics in the pants - just to kind of accomodate the extra weight on top. And of course, you’ve got to look festive with extra green garland and the nice little lights around the belt.”
Reporter: Most of the Santas are from Summit County communities, but there are participants from across the U.S. and at least a couple of different countries in attendance. Breckenridge Mayor John Warner is taking part, and he’s pleased with the turnout:
John Warner: “All of a sudden we’ve got tons of people up here. Last year it was like 150. We’ve got, looks like maybe 300 Santas, so it’s doubled almost this year. And the money goes for a organization that buys gifts for young children that can’t afford Christmas. So it’s a cool deal."
Reporter: The race itself is more a sprint than a marathon. Actually, for most -- it’s not so much a race as a five block stroll through downtown. But while there’s no need for serious preparation, the Santas plot many different strategies.
Paul, from Orlando, FL: “I’m measuring up everybody as I stand here now to see what my competition is like. But I’ll probably go ahead and ditch the jacket as well as the hat, just for speed.
Peter Taves, from Silverthorne: “Some will be racing, some will be hobbling, some will be taking their time, I’ll be taking my time.”
Jenny from Maine, and LeeAnn from New Mexico: "Try to go really fast at the beginning, but then with altitude, it doesn’t last too long."
Scott Smith, from Breckenridge: “Oh it’s serious out there. There’s a lot of elbows, chains, spikes. It’s gonna be crazy. I’m ready for it though - I’ve got armour. I’m ready to rock and roll.
Phillip Merves, from Silverthorne: “My strategy is to come in last and I think I have a really good shot at that.
Anthony Nance: “And there’s hot chocolate at the end I heard, so that’s what I’m going for.”
Race Announcer: "All right Santas - are we all mobbed together on Main Street?"
REPORTER: A group of children - the Reindeer - get a head start of about a minute or so, and then it’s time for the main event.
Race Announcer: "Santas Go!!! Come on Santas, let’s move, let’s move, let’s move!"
REPORTER: And they’re off. The crowd of Santas, along with various family members and pets, make their way through the course. Those who are serious about running the race need only a couple short minutes to cross the finish line. The last Santa comes in about 10 minutes later.
Race Announcer: "How's the course Santas? Some Santas are out of breath, they're not used to doing it without their reindeer pulling them..."
REPORTER: The staff take some time to sort out the order of finishers before announcing the winners in each category. The women’s winner is one of the Bronco Santas. For her efforts, Breckenridge resident Kyle Armstrong receives a decorated Ullr helmet - Ullr being the Norse god of Snow.
Armstrong: “There are little carolers and christmas lights and there’s a skier on the back -- a skiing santa -- so it’s pretty cute.”
Armstrong plans to be back next year. Her advice for her fellow Santas:
Armstrong: ”Get in the front, and use your elbows.”