There was an abundance of holiday spirit at the downtown riverbank as runners in some truly inventive-and well lit-costumes came together for the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Light the Way 5K and Fun Run Sunday, November 19. Natchitoches’ incredible Christmas lights provided a unique backdrop as a record 300 runners brought some additional holiday spirit to downtown for an evening race under the lights.
Athletes and coaches from Northwestern State University’s celeritous Track and Field program once again volunteered to assist with administering the race. They were joined by a group of Americorps volunteers from Winnfield. The Calico Belles and members of a local dance and cheer school encouraged the runners with signs and cheers. A local fitness studio led the runners in a warm-up routine and area businesses dispensed much needed hot chocolate and post-race treats. Miss Merry Christmas, the Christmas Belles and Angels were also on hand to cheer the runners on.
Five racers from Alexandria’s chapter of Ansley’s Angels, a group of runners who help fellow athlete/riders who would otherwise be unable to experience a race by assisting them with a specially built wheelchair, came to compete and enjoy our city.
The race’s signature costume contest is now named the Jolly Saint Jack Costume Contest in honor of the late Jack Brittain, Jr. Jack was a tireless force for good in our community and his beloved Northwestern State Demons. He was a ubiquitous holiday presence in his Santa suit, handing out his trademark small flashlights and peppermints. It is a rare person indeed in Natchitoches who does not have a fond holiday memory of meeting him as Santa Claus. Jack Brittain’s family led the one-mile fun run wearing Santa costumes in his memory, handing out flashlights and peppermints.
The race was more than a chance to have fun in a unique holiday atmosphere. The event was held to raise funds for the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce’s community initiatives. Have fun. Work hard. Build a better community. And don’t forget to have a peppermint in Jack Brittain’s honor!