Fashion faux pas bring joy as runners don ugly sweaters for charity

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BOSTON – It’s that time of year again: Holiday music wafts from radios and TVs, storefronts sport Christmas and Hanukkah decorations, and, when it arrives, the cold brisk air can be hard to take. To some, this marks the time to dig through family closets to find the tackiest sweater available.

Think tennis-ball green trees, hot pink Christmas stockings, or reindeer that look more like Bullwinkle the moose. There comes a day you can wear it with pride.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Ugly Sweater Run, part of a series in 20 cities around the country that starts right after Thanksgiving, returned to Boston Saturday. This year’s $5 entry fee goes to Save the Children, which provides children from over 120 different countries with everything that they need from a healthy start to an opportunity to learn.

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The 5-kilometer, or 3.1 mile, fun-run series usually draws thousands of runners and walkers who follow a course through city streets and parks. For would be runners unable to find a sufficiently tacky pullover, booths offered enough supplies and application implements to uglify any sweater.

For participants and cheering section denizens alike, the event offered something fun, from massive inflatables, photo stations, games and of course, plenty of holiday music. Following the race, there were awards for Best Ugly Sweater, Best Kids Sweater and Best Real/Fake Mustache/Beard.

Although there were many complaints of the race being disorganized, many participants still enjoyed each other’s company while waiting in long lines for I.D. check and for complimentary drinks.

Last year’s event raised almost $20,000 for the charity, and this year’s fees were nearing that mark says before the starting bell, said Maria Palestis, Save the Children’s manager of community engagement and fundraising. This is the second year the Ugly Sweater Run has donated the proceeds to the charity.

“We obviously saw the mutual liking of friends and family and children all wanting to do something for the common good,” Palestis said, explaining why her group decided to collaborate with the race organizers. “Why not have fun during the holiday season, spread joy, and do it for a great cause?”