Catonsville residents and visitors need not be alarmed if they see a group of 500 brightly dressed and string light-wearing runners and bicyclists trailing through the streets Tuesday night singing Christmas carols.
The annual Holiday Lights Run has “taken on a life of its own” since it began seven years ago as an ad-hoc seasonal trek between the group of mountain bikers known as the Catonsville Klunkers, and a pack of runners who call themselves the Full Moon Crazies, said Scott Westcoat, owner of The Hub/C’Ville Bikes, a bicycle store in Catonsville.
The groups used to encounter each other during their weekly nightly travels on trails throughout the Patapsco Valley State Park. About 50 of them in 2012 started the holiday tradition as an informal get-together, “just a run through the community and stop and sing Christmas carols” before convening at the bike shop to party, Westcoat said.
Since it began, the run has grown to well over 300 participants “just through word of mouth,” Westcoat said.
“It’s just kind of grown organically. We don’t really advertise it,” he said. Westcoat expects at least 400 participants for Tuesday night’s run, but is aiming to break the 500 mark if the weather holds out.
Partly cloudy conditions with wind gusts up to 18 miles per hour and a low of 30 degrees is forecast in Catonsville on Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service.
The run — not so much a race as a briskly paced gallivant through Catonsville neighborhoods — is open to families and experienced and non-experienced cyclists and jogger alike, Westcoat said.
Those interested in joining the Holiday Lights Run will meet at The Hub on Frederick Road at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17. Although it’s not mandated, Westcoat said runners have taken it upon themselves to get decked out in holiday colors and lights. The event is scheduled to end at 10:30 p.m.
For those who aren’t overly familiar with traditional Christmas carols, Westcoat said the group will have handouts to use when the travelers stop at Catonsville homes — usually the most festive-looking houses — along their running route. Joggers and bikers will begin and end the 4-mile trek at The Hub, Westcoat said.
Although crossing guards will not be guiding traffic along the route, there will be someone directing traffic where joggers will cross twice over Rolling Road. There will be “several bail-out points” along the route for participants to return and “hang out in the bike shop until everyone kind of congregates” there at the end, Westcoat said.
Everyone is encouraged to bring a food dish to the holiday party at The Hub after the holiday run; family-friendly and adult beverages will be served, Westcoat said.
This year, the groups are also asking for donations to Catonsville Emergency Assistance, a nonprofit that offers myriad services to Catonsville families in need. Donations, either monetary or food items, can be brought to a kiosk that will be set up near the bike shop by the Crazies.