On December 14, 2013, the wildly popular charity event known as the “Reno Santa Crawl” saw thousands of locals and tourists donning their Santa Regalia and “Supporting the Claus.” Reno has hosted the Santa Crawl for the past 8 years and 2013 may have been the largest crowd ever. The event serves as an excellent fundraiser, giving all the proceeds to help local schools. The Reno Santa Crawl has inspired similar Santa Crawls all across the country, one as far away as Massachusetts.
Along with the Reno Santa Crawl, the city also hosted the Great Santa Dash, a 5k run/walk which earned participants over the age of 21 a free Santa Crawl cup for joining. The 5k run/walk began at Wingfield Park in Reno around 10 a.m. All proceeds went to support the AIY Foundation, the charitable portion of Athlete in You, LLC.
For people who preferred to ski in their Santa suit instead of running or walking, there was a companion event at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, featuring a day of discount skiing and partying. The full Santa suit or other holiday costume was necessary to earn the discount. Simply sporting the Santa hat didn’t cut it.
The Santa Crawl charity event’s continued success has more to do with the generally festive atmosphere found in Reno than any other factor. While still a world class vacation destination, with luxury hotels, fine dining, a 24/7 night life and the best entertainers from around the world, Reno retains the small town feel and charm unavailable in bigger, more sprawling cities. The people who live and work in Reno, from the mayor to the newest busboy, seem to instinctively understand how important it is to make everyone -visitors and locals alike- feel welcome and included.
Reno has spawned Crawl Culture, with Wine Walks and Crawls for almost every holiday and season. There is a Zombie Crawl, a Superheros vs. Villains Crawl, a Leprechaun Crawl and a host of similar events scheduled throughout the year. These are in addition to nationally known events like Hot August Nights and the Reno Air Races.
The Reno Santa Crawl officially ended at midnight, but dozens of After Arch Parties went on until almost sunrise. The traditional Photo Under the Arch was slated for 10 p.m., instead of midnight this year. The Santa Crawl officials wanted to have the most participants possible, while ensuring that the local businesses which supported the event could maintain their own celebrations. Not every Santa costume provides as much protection from the cold as others.
Over 80 local bars and casinos participated in the Santa Crawl charity event this year, donating their Crawl proceeds to education. Hotel rooms were made available for last minute arrivals, with proceeds for Santa Crawl guests going to charity as well.
Total numbers for those participating in all the activities won’t be tallied for a few days, but one eye witness, local businessman and candidate for mayor, Eddie Lorton, estimated that it was the largest Santa Crawl crowd he had ever been a part of. The Reno Santa Crawl charity event will continue on for as long as it remains successful. Which is to say, far into the future.
By Ben Gaul
2012 Santa Crawl pictures