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There was no shortage of holiday cheer at the 21st Annual Reindeer Run, and I’m happy to report there was just enough “holiday weird” to keep the race fresh and exciting. Santa Claus was joined by Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and a plethora of elves at the starting line, and they jostled for position with the Grinch, a woman with a live macaw on her arm, a couple runners in kilts, and one very large bighorn sheep.

The buzzer sounded in the crisp morning air and the racers were off, their candy-cane socks, snow flake pajama pants, and elf ears retreating into the distance. As the last of the costumed competitors disappeared from sight, one couldn’t help wondering how many antlers or brightly hued Christmas tutus (which were all the rage this year) would be lost along the 5K race.

A crowd of supporters lingered around the finish line, Rudolph, a man in a Christmas tree costume, and the bighorn sheep among them. An individual in a head-to-toe Christmas tree light suit also made an appearance, pausing from its saucy dance moves to pose for a few photos before swinging and sashaying through the faux-snow drifting from the Vendue Inn.

After what seemed like only a few minutes, the first finalists were pounding down the pavement toward the finish line. They broke through the ribbon with several antlered athletes in their wake, and it might be worth noting that the higher the number on the time clock, the more elaborate the costume.

Watching a man in a Santa Suit puff past the clock couldn’t help but make one wonder exactly how comfortable it could be to exercise in velour. Dawn and Jacci Giglio had no complaints about their fuzzy polar bear ear muffs, however, “We wore them the entire race!” they laughed.

Participants crossed the line with smeared Grinch paint, off-kilter Santa hats, and disheveled-looking tutus, but everyone finished with a smile to loud shouts of support. As the last people joined the other finalists, everyone began to surge toward the After Party at Southend Brewery. The 21st Annual Reindeer Run had successfully concluded, leaving spirits bright.

The Reindeer Run is a non-profit event planned and produced by the Charitable Society of Charleston, and this year’s race was presented by Piggly Wiggly and Half-moon Outfitters. Proceeds from the Reindeer Run are split between MUSC Children’s Hospital and the Charitable Society of Charleston. Eighty percent of the funds go to the MUSC Children’s Hospital and the rest help fund the Charitable Society of Charleston’s endowment, which provides grants and donations to local non-profit organizations.