Runners to take to streets Sunday to raise money for Batavia pantry

Published: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – Don’t be surprised to see a group of people running through downtown Batavia on Sunday morning festively dressed in Santa hats and other holiday outfits.

The Underground Polar Express Run will be at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at the Peg Bond Center, located near the Batavia Riverwalk, Houston Street and North Island Avenue. Those who participate in the 3.1-mile course are raising money for the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry.

This is the first year of the event.

“It’s kind of a grassroots thing we are doing,” said organizer Karen Willuweit of Batavia. “It’s almost like a flash mob run.”

Participants pay a $10 fee, with all of the proceeds going to the food pantry. Those who participate can either run or walk.

“We thought this would be a great time to make sure that everybody has something to eat this holiday season,” Willuweit said.

Fifty people have registered so far, she said, and people can register at 11 a.m. the day of the event. Participants will receive Santa hats to wear, and the best dressed costume will receive a prize.

“We’re all going to be looking silly wearing Santa hats,” Willuweit said.

Participants also are urged to bring nonperishable food items for the food pantry. The pantry is in need of food items such as cereal, baby food, Ramen noodles and beef stew, along with sugar, dish soap and paper towels.

The Underground Polar Express Run will end at Pal Joey’s, located on North River Street in Batavia near the Fox River. Participants will receive a free drink ticket and glass at Pal Joey’s.

Willuweit said she hopes the run becomes a holiday tradition.

“I’m hoping that next year we can make it bigger and make it an actual race with the city,” she said.

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