87 Runners, Walkers, Plus Sweaters, Vie For Ugliest
By LIBBY CUDMORE • The Freeman’s Journal
Edition of Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014
It was a wooly and wild weekend in Cooperstown. Things got pretty ugly for a bit, but everyone still had a great time.
Some 90 runners and walkers, plus spectators aplenty, attended the belated Rockin’ Around Cooperstown Ugly Sweater Run Saturday, Dec. 13, bringing out their Santa Snuggies, reindeer sweatshirts and sweaters bedecked with bows, jingle bells and even working Christmas lights. “We had a great turnout,” said Matt Hazzard, Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce executive director. “We had a community that rallied behind the event, despite the weather – because people are interested in new things here.”
Though the race had been originally scheduled for the Saturday before, ice forced Hazzard to delay the event for a week.
Originally, the run had been planned as an all-day event, with music, a pug kissing booth, sleigh rides and a competition for who had the ugliest sweater, judged by The Farmers’ Museum’s own Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
The contest did happen, and Hazzard’s wife Stephanie won ugliest sweater prize for a white Santa cardigan, and the downtown fun ended just in time to piggyback onto The Candlelight Evening at The Farmers’ Museum.
Kyle Breier, Oneonta, won the 5K in 25:41. The fastest female was Melissa Swislosky, Mount Upton, who finished in 27:34.
Matt Hazzard still thinks fondly on the Ugly Sweater That Got Away.
“It had Winnie the Pooh and Tigger in Christmas hats next to a tree,” he said. “It was fantastic.”
It didn’t survive the trip from Colorado to Cooperstown, but it is in that holiday spirit that the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and the Clark Sports Center have teamed up for the Rockin’ Around Cooperstown Ugly Sweater Walk/Run and Downtown Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 6 – aka St. Nick’s day.
“Ugly sweaters have come back into style,” he said. “It’s a retro thing. We all have them, and now we have an opportunity to put them to good use.”
He’d heard of similar races, but after doing some research, he saw the nearest one was in New York City.
The four-mile run and two-mile walk will start at 12:30, (and Main Street will be closed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to encourage pedestrian activity.) Participants will each get a Santa hat and bells, “So they can jingle all the way around Cooperstown!” said Hazzard.
Participants also get a coupon for a free coffee or hot chocolate from Stagecoach Coffee or a free Ommegang beer from Cooley’s. “It helps brings supporters to local businesses and restaurants,” he said.
More than 100 have already registered for the race, but Hazzard expects more will register the day of. And when the race is over, there’s still plenty to do, including sleigh rides, a pooch kissing booth benefiting the SSPCA, music by Bourbon & Branch and Scattered Flurries, and the annual Pathfinder Village bell choir concert at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But don’t think you can take off that ugly sweater when the race is run – the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, taking time off from their performances of “A Christmas Carol” at the Farmers’ Museum, will be on hand to judge who’s sweater reigns supreme.
“We had Santa last weekend and Light Up Cooperstown the weekend after,” said Hazzard. “Having this means we have three wonderful weekends to celebrate the holiday season here in Cooperstown.”
But he has a tough choice to make this Saturday. “I’ve got an ugly sweater, but I also have an entire one-piece pajama outfit!” he said. “I’ve got an important decision to make.”