CROWN POINT | What started out as a couple of buddies taking a morning run through town in Santa Claus suits spreading holiday cheer has now turned into a Crown Point community tradition.
Approximately 500 runners and walkers trekked through a light rainfall in the historic downtown as part of the annual 5K Santa Run on Dec. 21.
“The turnout has been very humbling,” said Tim Fealy, Santa Run/Walk coordinator. “We are always a bit concerned about the weather at this time of year, but are always pleasantly surprised by the support for this race.”
The noncompetitive Santa Run began in the 1980’s, when Fealy joined Allan Nalbor and another friend as they made their way downtown clad in Christmas attire spreading holiday cheer down Main Street while ringing bells and shouting at each passerby.
“It was like something out of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life,’” said Fealy. “The feeling we got was powerful because everyone smiled and would beep at us.”
Fealy, with Nalbor’s blessing, wanted others to share in that goodwill, so he decided to promote the run as a community event. The run has grown each year, and this year expanded to Hobart and Highland events. The Santa Run also has become a charitable event with many runners raising funds for their local schools, churches and organizations.
Organizations such as the Lake County Animal Shelter, St. Jude House, St. Mary Catholic Community School, Trinity Lutheran Church, Meals on Wheels, Southlake YMCA, Humane Society of Calumet Area, NWI Cancer Kids Foundation and Girls on the Run have benefited from race pledges.
The race route is strategically designed and begins in St. Mary Church parking lot, heading north on Main Street to the North Pole (by American Legion Post 20), and back south on Main to Joliet Street, where plenty of spectators are able to catch a glimpse and encourage runners and walkers alike.
“The City of Crown Point, Mayor David Uran, Crown Point Police and the Civil Defense have been wonderful partners in making this a safe event for everyone,” said Fealy.
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