Most elves are busy building toys in Santa’s workshop this time of year. But on Saturday morning, about 100 of Santa’s helpers took some time off to race through the streets of Central, kicking off the city’s Christmas festivities.
The Central Chamber of Commerce has sponsored the Running of the Elves 5K run for the past three years, with adults and children in elf attire competing in the race.
The run marked the beginning of Small Business Saturday, which is observed nationwide, along with the chamber’s annual Shop Local campaign, said Darcie Perkins, vice president of membership development.
“It’s just to encourage people to shop local so they’ll go into businesses they haven’t been into before, so they know what we have,” Perkins said. “They really can shop out here and, of course, the tax dollars stay out here.”
Serious runners stuck to their usual exercise attire, but most people were doing the race just for fun and came dressed in colorful, jingling costumes.
Amanda Ranck, Matt Melton and Paige Frederick, of Denham Springs, wore matching green elf T-shirts and hats.
“We were looking for a fun event,” Ranck said. “We usually do triathlons together — we’ve done three together. This is our first themed race.”
Red and green tutus were a popular costume element. Denham Springs resident Dana Thames said she and her 8-year-old daughter Cameron made their own tutus.
“We like to run a lot. This one is my little runner,” Thames said of her daughter. “It’s something we like to do, and this looked fun because we get to dress up.”
Cameron won her age division, clocking in at just over 27 minutes and beating many of the adults who competed.
Frank Canella, of Central, dressed as Santa Claus.
“I just wanted to be different,” he said. “This is just for fun. And I’m burning off Thanksgiving dinner.”
The mother and daughter team of Sally and Jill Henson, of Central, dressed in coordinating outfits that included tall stockings that read “naughty” and “nice.”
Sally Henson, 54, said she started working out in March and has lost more than 30 pounds by running. She and her daughter ran their first 5K earlier this year and were hoping to beat their times on Saturday.
Sisters Kim Brimage, of Central, and Anna Anderson, of Kingman, Arizona, walked the race together. Anderson said she has been walking more often lately and was excited to complete her first 5K.