Home » Asbury Park Santa Run: How This Annual Holiday Event Came to Be

Asbury Park Santa Run: How This Annual Holiday Event Came to Be

by Sarah Griesbach
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Twenty-first-century Asbury Park has a lot to be proud of. Each new year sees the continuation of old, and the addition of new, community events that celebrate and elevate the hopes and concerns of area residents. Even something as run-derfully silly as the annual Santa Run tells a story of the dedication to care and kindness found so frequently in Asbury Park. Read on to learn more about this iconic event in Asbury Park.

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A Very Merry 5K

On Saturday, December 2nd, the eighth annual Santa Run brought well over 3,000 to the not-too-chilly streets of Asbury Park. When the inaugural Asbury Park 5K Santa Run took place in 2016, it was an immediate success. This year’s crowd made it evident that Asbury Park just grows jollier every year.

santa run 5k asbury park nj runners

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Each year, on the first December weekend, runners and walkers of all abilities don their very own Santa suit — provided with their registration for the race — and that visual of so many Santas swarming the streets brings a smile to even the grinchiest Christmas grump.  The closed-course race takes place on the streets of Asbury Park, starting and finishing at the legendary Stone Pony.

And To All a Good Run

The 2023 race winner was Alex Dweck of Long Branch as he was the fastest of the Santas with an official run time of 16 minutes, 20 seconds. Speed, however, is less the focus of this particular run than camaraderie and fun. The snow machine-fueled fanfare that greeted the last slew of Santas to circle back around the course was as festive as the flurry of cheer that greeted the first to cross the finish line.

santa run 5k asbury park nj stony pony

As if a teeming mob of red-suited Santas barreling down Cookman Avenue were not enough to make every spirit bright, the annual Asbury Park Santa Run ends with a series of crazy fun after-party events. The 2023 parties featured Brian Kirk + the Jirks at the Stone Party, and Nine Deez Nite at the Wonder Bar, along with the Ocean Ave Stomper’s Holiday Stomp at Asbury Lanes, and the Asbury Park Holiday Bazaar in the Convention Hall.

The Spirit of Giving

The race is, at first glance, just a ridiculous romp — Asbury Parkers playing their wacky reindeer games. However, there is a lot more to this 5K than costumed group exercise. The Santa Run is an effective fundraiser too, raising money for local organization, Lunch Break. This Monmouth County non-profit provides healthy food, a clothing boutique, mentoring support, and programs to bring life skills and job readiness tools to community members who need the help. Norma Todd, who directed Lunch Break from its founding as a small food pantry in 1983 until she died in 2008 at age 87 believed in the power of a caring community. Thousands of Asbury Park Santas prove her right every year.

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To learn more about the race and sign up for next year’s event, visit the website here. To stay in the know with everything happening in Asbury Park, follow @theasburygirl on Instagram + TikTok.

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