1,000 Santas set pace for Christmas Festivities
By KEVIN GRAY
New Hampshire Union Leader
Thousands of Santa Claus suit-clad runners participated in Saturday’s Santa Claus Shuffle race on Elm Street in Manchester. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER — A pretend Santa Claus won the race, leading a sea of red suits and smiling faces to the finish line.
The real Santa was probably much too busy to leave the North Pole and participate in the inaugural Santa Claus Shuffle on Saturday afternoon.
Race winner Jeremy Huckins, 29, of Enfield dashed up and down Elm Street, finishing at Veterans Memorial Park in 16 minutes, 38 seconds, barely breaking a sweat through his white beard and Santa hat. There were 1,000 runners and walkers wearing full Santa suits, which just might have broken some kind of record.
“Incredible. We just got a call from Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and this is the most people they’ve ever seen with Santa suits on,” said Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, who also claimed the Guinness Book of World Records was on the other line, jokingly.
In all seriousness, runners from the White Mountains to Windham created the largest inaugural race in New Hampshire history. When it was over, Gatsas lit the city Christmas tree at Stanton Plaza and members of the New England Voices of Harmony choral group sang carols. Runners stuffed themselves with free pizza and soup and then watched the annual Spirit of New Hampshire Christmas Parade.