Decked out in festive speedos and creative holiday costumes, more than 500 runners made a daring dash down Newbury and Boylston streets during the 12th annual SSRun (Santa Speedo Run) on Saturday.
The event supports local charities, and this year the Play Ball! Foundation was the sole recipient, anticipating at least $250,000 in donations. The organization provides after-schools sports (football, baseball, double
Dutch and volleyball) to more than 1,000 middle school students in 35 Boston Public Schools.
"This money will completely fund our entire spring program," said Executive Director Michael Harney, who of course will don a speedo along with about 20 people from the Play Ball! fundraising team.
The funds will go toward two sports leagues of 20 teams with more than 500 students. It covers everything including uniforms, equipment, buses, coaches, ref's, EMT's, and oranges at half-time.
"It's incredible, especially in these tough economic times," Harney said. "If it takes a bunch of old fat guys in a speedo to make that happen - we're shameless when it comes to fundraising and we don't take ourselves too seriously."
Lir on Boylston Street served as the start and finish to the annual run. At noon there was a crowd gathered on the sidewalk in front of the bar. Occasionally a fully clothed pedestrian with a Santa hat or some other holiday gear would step inside. Registration for the run took place inside, as well as a healthy amount of pre-run celebrating.
The majority of the racers were ready and willing to expose their bodies to the climate and the awaiting spectators. Once the police arrived to block off the street, the scantily clad Santas were released down Boylston.
The cold air seemed to keep the runners at a quicker pace than their police escort. As the race turned down Newbury Street, the runners took over and the unaware cars had nowhere to go. Drivers honked at first but then enjoyed the show by leaning out their windows, standing on their car roofs, and cheering on the runners.