Balmy weather and the promise of a jolly good time lured 701 participants from their beds early Sunday morning to the "Santa Run, Reindeer Dash for Kids."
This first-time-ever event was hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Crystal Lake as a way to raise money for McHenry County organizations serving children. Runners, walkers, participants pushing strollers and some tagging along dogs gathered at the Raue Center for the Arts where the race kicked off at 9 a.m.
The giant crowd of Santa Clauses weaved its way through the streets of downtown Crystal Lake.
Temperatures were so warm some Santas converted their red pants into cutoff shorts, others opted to skip wearing the Santa suit, and many beards were seen flying along the course.
By all accounts, the 5K and its shorter one-mile course were a huge success, and organizers said they hope to build on the novelty of the race in upcoming years.
"We're just so happy that people came out to support the programs offered to children in McHenry County," said Michelle Stien, who co-chaired the event alongside Mike Splitt and Chris Christensen, who dressed as Buddy the Elf for the run.
"We're also happy for a warm and wonderful day," Stien said.
Proceeds from the Santa Run, Reindeer Dash will benefit Big Brothers, Big Sisters; Girls on the Run NWIL; CASA, The Light Center/ Main Stay; and Turning Point.