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Local Runners Start A “Lighter” Tradition For Enjoying The Holiday Sights

It’s a holiday tradition for many families--driving through town, or even from town to town, to see the bright and colorful lights hung in each neighborhood. But with so many holiday traditions leading to more holiday pounds, one group has found a way to make their tradition of taking in the twinkling sights a little “lighter.”

“One of the things I thought about when we first decided to do this, just me and a few friends last year is that growing up I remember getting in the car with my family and driving around to the different neighborhoods and looking at the Christmas Lights and that was fun you got to be in the car and sing Christmas Carols. This is a little more healthy going out and actually be in the streets and running in the neighborhoods,” said organizer Amanda Nalley.

By day Nalley works for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. But, on Monday evenings in December, she’s the organizer of “the Christmas Light runs.” And she says those runs carry on the tradition of being family affairs.

"Yeah, definitely, we had a lady out last week with her two children and a stroller. Any of the runs that Gulf Winds has are generally open to everyone,"

And it’s that feeling of family that keeps some like runner Ron Harrison wanting to come out despite the cold and busy winter days.

“Probably for me it’s about getting the exercise, but also it’s about seeing so many people that I know from the running community. The neat thing about being engaged in the running community is that there’s so many events that Gulf Winds Track Club puts on and the runners themselves will put together apart from the group. So you end up seeing a lot of the same folks at different events and it’s more of a family gathering than just a group of runners because you get to know everyone so well that they become family,” Harrison said.

The Christmas Light runs are organized all by volunteers. Nalley came up with the idea last year when she and a friend started doing similar runs just by themselves. Now she pre-drives each route, and prints out maps made to take different levels of runners a variety of distances. And other members of the group are pitching in too, by bringing things like flashlights, or for some, like Lisa Dienger--snacks.

“Well, I put out the healthy stuff for those who are trying to watch their calories. So I have lots of water and cups and orange slices. But fun stuff and festive stuff as well,” Dienger said.

Dienger left a table outside her house, which is along the route for most runners on this day. The table is covered with Christmas lights and besides those healthy treats has a few more seasonal delights as well like ginger snap cookies and chocolate covered pretzels. She said since this run is going through her neighborhood she really wanted to pitch in.  And it’s a welcome break for runners who stop to share a few laughs and a cup of cheer.

The Christmas Light runs are happening every Monday in December starting at 6:00 in different neighborhoods around town. Another group, the Winthrop Park Express runs through Dorthy B. Oven Park every Monday also at 6:00. They meet at Winthrop Park off Thomasville Road.

Visit their facebook pages here and here and find more information about Gulf Winds Track Club here.

For more news updates, follow Regan McCarthy on twitter @Regan_McCarthy

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories here.