By Jeff Gonzales and Cintia Lopez, journalism students at American River College.
Nothing says the holidays like ugly sweaters, inflatable Christmas decorations and charitable acts. Especially when those acts are rewarded with beer.
Blow-up candy canes and a Christmas tree arch lined the sides of William Land Park as masses mustachioed with temporary tattoos dressed in their best, or worst, ugly Christmas sweaters gathered to partake in the third annual Ugly Sweater Run.
“Anytime you can help, get up early and get rid of a hangover is OK with me,” Nate Kabanuck, a contestant on CMT’s “Sweet Home Alabama” said after he finished his run.
The Ugly Sweater run, held for the first time in Sacramento by Human Movement Management, brought an onslaught of hideous holiday cheer in the form of ugly Christmas sweaters.
Dog walkers, mothers pushing strollers and beer drinkers alike were running, jogging and walking the 5K. The participants were encouraged to bring new toys that will ultimately be donated to the Toys For Tots Foundation.
A radio DJ from K-Hits 101.5 FM attempted to pump up the shivering crowd with music and banter, as the runners were sent off in separate waves of about 100 people each. Runners were cheering as they took off.
Groups with matching sweaters, socks or hats ran under a surprisingly clear sky, not deterred by predictions from weathermen that it might actually snow in the City of Trees.
“My grandkids and I wanted to do a run,” Malinda Neubert said as one eager grandchild bounced up and down beside her. “We tried to do the Apple Hill one, but I was out of town so we thought this would be a fun one to do.”
Human Movement Management gave all runners participating in the roughly 3.1-mile run “vintage knit” beanies along with the mustache temporary tattoos, unlimited hot chocolate and two Samuel Adams Lagers or Angry Orchard Ciders for those of age who wanted to get an early start on their Saturday afternoon drinking.
“(I’m running) because there were two beers at the end,” 30-year-old Kristen Noriega said after she ran across the finish line with a friend.
Runners wore mostly sweatpants, short-shorts and yoga pants. One man in a semi-sheer Speedo paraded his backside with the third wave of people.
Nearly everyone wore sweaters festooned with random articles like small, wrapped Christmas presents and tinsel.
At the first mile stop, there was an inflatable reindeer where eager people could take pictures with their friends and family. From there, many people could be seen running back on their way to the finish line.
After the run, participants and spectators lounged around the inflatable Christmas tree that was surrounded by wrapped and unwrapped gifts. Event volunteers included students from Monterey Trail High School.
“It’s a good way to hang out and have some fun,” 25-year-old Brian Murff said, as he panted at the finish line. “I haven’t done anything this long in six months, so I was hurting in the end but it was not so bad.”