Monday, December 20, 2010

The Gorinchem 2010 Santa Run

HO HO HO! All one thousand of us!

When Astrid told me a few weeks back about our city's Santa Run scheduled for Saturday, 18 December, and that for €10 each we could participate, with money going to charity, it didn't take me long to say YES. And am I ever glad I did. I thought Sinterklaas coming to town made me a Kid again...but this was that multiplied by 1,000.

This was Gorinchem's third Santa Run. It started in 2008 with 400 participants, last year with 800, and this year 1,000. My guess its it'll just get bigger and bigger with each new year. We totally missed it last year but will do our best to be there every year from now on.

So anyway, Astrid went to a nearby participating store to pick up our Santa suits and race numbers. Since my age ends in a 5 and hers in a 6, it was easy to decide who got which number.
One size fits all! HA! One size, that is for the adults and one size for the kids.

Once Saturday arrived, we were off to the races! I took pictures of Astrid and she took pictures of me.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself, I see. Warm-up started at 10:30 a.m. near the Grote Kerk just 2 blocks away, with the race beginning at 11 a.m. Before we even got inside the Start entrance, a lady from the newspaper stopped us and took our picture (similar to the one above at the top of the post) and info, with Astrid's motto for 2011, "Stay Positive!" We'll see later this week if we're published. HA.

But then, almost at the same time, we bumped into Dries, our neighbor friend who, too, is a city paper photographer (he took the picture of us above). So as we now do, by habit, we take and send each other pictures of each other. Dries says that since he's met us, he'll now have to get a photo album for himself! You know how it is...who takes pictures of the photographer?? Astrid and I do:

Isn't life just grand! What would we do without our friends.

Speaking of which....
Last winter I bumped into Ernie while on a walk around our citadel wall. Ernie also is a photographer, so already there's a big-bridge connection. Since that first bump-into, we have bumped into each other several times while he walks his gorgeous dog, Laika. I fell in love with her at first sight.
How fun, then, to bump into them again at the Santa Run. Ernie had no clue what was going on. All he was doing was his normal walk-about with Laika, minding his own business. Maybe he and Laika will be Santas next year?
And all this happened before the race started!

Speaking of dogs, aren't these the cat's meow!

NOW the race can start....

The funny thing is, several minutes before the race, the Start line was full of all those girls on the top row (above). But at the very beginning of the Run, these 7 boys on the bottom row were on the line and they were the ones that started the race. I couldn't help but think of grandson Nicholas. He would have been in his element since HE's the King of all runners.

What I neglected to say is this was only a 3K run, just halfway around our citadel loop...using 'run' and 'race' loosely, since most of us did not run. Astrid started out running and then came back to walk with me the rest of the way, to take pictures.

We were so very lucky weather-wise!
As you can see, the sun actually came out for part of the time. The temps hovered around 28F the entire time but because we were all so excited, and had the Santa suits on, we were actually almost too warm. I got hit at least once by a snowball from behind. HAHA! If we can't take a joke, right?!

In fact, there was enough tom-foolery to last the entire day.

The Finish line came way too soon, especially once I discovered we would NOT be passing either of our two citadel windmills. I had been fantasizing for days about getting pictures of 1,000 Santas passing by one of the windmills. WRONG. But once I realized it just wasn't gonna happen, no matter how much I protested, I got over it and did in fact cross the Finish line, right in front of one of our favorite Greek restaurants.

I took a picture of Astrid getting her medal and she took a picture of me. How's that for being glad we're both photographers!

At the end of the race, servers were set up to give us hot glühwein, erwtensoep (pea soup...a big-time Dutch specialty) and rookworst...all part of our entrance fee. Tell me this isn't fun!
[You may remember a close-up picture of Astrid and another lady way up at the top of this post. That's Annamiek, who is an old friend of Astrid's, one of the servers in the line-up above.]

You know me. Give me a camera and suddenly I see all kinds of photo-ops. You photographers know this, of course. I am always attracted to the children, especially, wondering what they're thinking during these events.

The ones who stole my heart were these two sisters (I assume). I couldn't get enough of them.

The race was done, the food was eaten, and it was time to go home...but not before the real way-too-skinny Santa made his appearance. Talk about the frosting on the cake.

And thanks to Dries, here's a YouTube of the day.
€25,000 was raised from this event, with €10K going to a hospital for children and €10K going to war orphans. Totally worth the experience!

We were back home by 1 p.m., riding a 'high' that wasn't from the glühwein. I really am a kid at heart. I've decided I'm making up for all the lost time in my own childhood, much of which I don't remember. Someone clearly knew I'd need my chance all over again, which thrills me to no end.

But...we had to segue from the Santa Run to our Christmas dinner celebration with Jeroen and Eva that evening. They arrived at 4 p.m. and everything was not only ready, I even had time to upload and look at all the pictures I took (287). Did I mention I made the main meal the day before, making all the difference in the world?

For the last many years in Atlanta, the Christmas meal had always been one of my kids' favorites from when we ate at G'ma Tiffan's eons ago: chicken paprikash. It's a Hungarian poor-man's meal but has become a celebration meal for my family. Jeroen and Eva (Astrid, too) had their first taste and all agreed we could continue the tradition. I don't want to forget it. It brings me so many happy memories.

Dinner and a movie: "The Family Stone," another favorite...and one that is also connected to my own family. My niece is married to a man who happens to be the cousin of the director (or some such big-whig). So much fun to know this kind of trivia, right?!

With that, Christmas will now come, the day. First, we'll celebrate our Christmas meal here at our senior-living complex tomorrow evening. Then Astrid and I plan to attend a Christmas Eve service at the Grote Kerk on Friday, followed by a quiet day here at home on Saturday, with dinner reservations at 4p nearby. It'll be just what the doctor ordered.

For you, may you, too, celebrate in a way that is just what you need. It comes around only once a year!


  1. What a fun community event! I'm not so sure America could get by with "One size fits All" though! And $ was being raised for charity all at the same time. I know our family would all participate!

  2. now that is so much fun. enjoy the holidays.

  3. I liked very much reading your report and looking at all the pictures - funny, happy observations, so that I could take part in this special event- a very good idea, echt gezellig, typically Dutch, but also a bit American - I find it wonderful that you are still so well integrated in the short time you are living in Gorinchem- I think the nice lady with the big camera might be well -known in the city!
    Very fine also the Christmas evening/night together with Jeroen and his girl-friend, two very likeable persons! I can imagine how you both will be enjoying the Christmas Day o Friday and Saturday... in the kerk, in the snow as we all hope -White Christmas might be the ice on the cake...!

  4. Hey Ginnie, sure looks like a great time was had by all, that was alot of Santa's! I'm so happy that you included so many cute pups, too!
    Sending joyful holiday wishes to you & Astrid and your families ... may all be merry and bright.
    Susan & Larry

  5. This looks like so much fun! And looks like you have had snow! We haven't had more than a few flakes yet.

  6. Margaret: I actually thought of that "one size" many times, because once you add your winter coat, it would have to be huge for some people. But somehow we all seemed to manage. It was fun. Your family would have a blast. Kids of all ages were there and that's the fun of these events here in Europe. I think the States could really do well with something like this in communities everywhere. I know they have one in Las Vegas.

    PC: Thanks, Maria. We had a blast.

    Philine: You are such a sweetheart to stop by and comment here again, dear friend. Hartstikke bedankt. Astrid laughed about your big-camera comment because she said she heard people say that maybe their picture will be in the newspaper. They ALL think I'm with the newspaper! What they don't know is that while fewer people are reading my site here, their pictures are going all over the world! :)

    Our weather forcast has suddenly changed to lots of rain the next few days with temps above freezing. We might not have snow after all??? :(

    WS: Thank you, dear Susan...for everything. It's that wonderful time of the year.

    Tim: That seems so strange that you have no snow there in PA. Maybe you'll have a nice surprise in the next days? I hope so. Thanks again for stopping by. Greet your wife for me.

  7. Big smiles for all you Santas! What a hoot. And you really did have dinner ready, and I'll bet chicken paprikash is better next day anyway. YUM. (I can taste it . . . )

    Did I tell you Lesley & Brian saw hundreds of Santas go by their apartment in Astoria? It wasn't a race, but it was too funny. They go from beer garden to beer garden. :)

  8. This event looks like a blast! I am amazed how much of American culture has infiltrated into Holland. I guess I'm glad that Sinterklaas is not desecrated by diluting his presence by the hundreds.

    Every May, San Francisco hold the Bay To Breakers run, which runs from the Bay Bridge to Ocean Beach. It's 7.5 hilly miles and costumes are encouraged. You can imagine how a city like San Francisco responds to the invitation to wear costumes. We made the mistake of taking our young children one year. They saw more than their fair share of people in their birthday suits. They still tease my husband and me about how we've scarred them for life :-)

  9. What a wonderful event!! I would have loved seeing all you Santa's walking or running through town. A few weeks ago we had out annual "Santacon". Apparently it started here in SF in 1994 and now the event has spread nationwide, where participants dress in Santa costumes and celebrate the festivities. I had never heard of it till we were out one Saturday driving around and saw so many santa's it made our head spin!

  10. wow - Talk about some great pictures!! Loved them, and just kept on thinking wow how lucky you are to live in such a beautiful village!

    We will celebrate once we finally get the day off on Christmas day. It feels so odd for me to be in the Christmas spirit when P and I are working even Christmas eve. However, I think we will enjoy ourselves a lot once the day ends, like you will be enjoying too!

    I hope to take a few pics of things here on the Island, fingers crossed I will! :)

  11. You already know I LOVE reading your posts... well this one REALLY hit the spot. I've been having a very hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year and found the story about the Santa Run and all your marvelous pictures... PLUS the video to be just the thing to help me get there!

    I too cannot recall much about my childhood so totally relate to being a kid at heart at our age... and going back to a comment you made some time back in a note you wrote... yes... I'm a woman "of a certain age" ... as of my most recent birthday, a certain Beatles tune is now my theme song for the year... am sure you will be able to guess the tune!

    Wishing you the merriest of holiday cheer and a happy new year!

  12. Oh... and thanks so much for your recent visit to my blog... my ankle is doing better but still has a ways to go... I'm mostly ignoring it and doing what I want to do (except for dancing a jig). :-)

  13. Ginnie did you get the email I sent you via this site? I sent about a week ago or so, when you posted the CHristmas tree pics ? Anyway love the pics from today looked like alot of fun. Happy Holidays hoo hoo hoo

  14. Ruth: You're absolutely right about the chicken paprikash being better the next day, which is why it was a no-brainer. We all love that dish. And yes, I recall Lesley saw Santas another year, too, or maybe that's the year you're talking about. The beer garden to beer garden would be too funny. I wonder if Bennett would have liked that? :)

    DB: The nice thing is this Run is indeed distanced from Sinterklaasdag. That's good. I can just imagine what any race would look like in San Fran. I'm sure the kids ARE scarred for life. HA! Hopefully in a good way.

    Mad: I think these multiple Santas bring so many smiles all around, so Bravo to all the cities that do the event. We will try to do it every year we can, especially if there's snow. It's a no-brainer, too, because of the gift to charity.

    ET: We both feel so lucky every day of our lives, Jen. We're always saying Thank You to the Universe. Astrid, too, is working before and after Christmas (not the weekend) with lots of late nights this week. But she has her chin up and is happy at work. That's good! Hopefully you'll have some good photo ops and we'll get to see some of your pics. Till then, holiday greetings to both you and P.

    Victoria: You are such a sweetheart, making my day with your comments. If all these Santas helped to inspire you in any way, then GOOD. I couldn't be happier for you. Thank you so much for your holiday greetings...and the same back at you! Take care of your ankle and follow the doctor's orders!

    Julie: I have just responded to your mail from a week ago and need you to really slap me across the wrist big time! It looks like we'll have more snow in the next couple days. YAY. Astrid says if we have snow this year on both Christmas days, it'll be the 6th time in 100 years!

  15. You write such an entertaining blog and have such joy in your life = even with all the trials you have had!..I so enjoy your visits and have to say that my blogging has taken a back seat to my life but how nice to always have a friendly place to go and visit. I wish you and Astrid many years of happiness and a wonderful Christmas! Thanks for all your sweet comments...and really....the santa suit would make a LOVELY shutterfly Christmas card!
    Maybe next years Card? have a good one, Ginnie....

  16. This looks like so much fun, Ginnie! Isn't it great to be able to exchange some of our Christmas traditions? I'm sure this Santa Run will be a new one for you and you have given Astrid, Jeroen and Eva a new one with the chicken paprikash. Yum!

    I'm getting ready for my first Chrismas at home since 2006, so I'm really looking forward to it :)

  17. Neva: That's a great idea on the Santa card. It was such a fun outing for us. And yes, we even got into our city paper. :)

    CS: I can't tell you how good it is to see you again, Sandra. I'm hoping to see a lot more of you in 2011. Just do it, Woman!

  18. Oh, I wish I were living there! I haven't seen a single Santa in public this year - not ringing bells, not talking with kids in a mall. The forces of political correctness (AKA "The New Puritans", AKA The Grinch) are abroad in the land, and community-wide fun can be hard to come by.

    I'm just astonished by the photos - did I read 287!? I'm not sure I've taken that many photos in my lifetime! But that's why you're the absolutely terrific photographer you are - you follow the wisdom expressed in “Within the Frame”, a book written by David duChemin. Despite being a little long, I'll give you this as a Christmas gift - I love the words myself, and think they apply to writing as well as photography.

    “Vision is the beginning and end of photography. It’s the thing that moves you to pick up the camera, and it determines what you look at and what you see when you do. It determines how you shoot and why. Without vision, the photographer perishes...

    As long as we’re alive and interact with life, the world, and the people around us, we’ll have something to say...

    The photographic life is one of discovering your vision and expressing it in purely visually terms. Sometimes our vision finds us, sometimes we need to chase it down...

    A photograph is only as good as the spirit of the person who took it. The best photographers are the ones who do not take photographs, but have learned how to let the photographs take them. They allow themselves to be moved and that movement writes the visual poem that is their photograph.

    Practice does not make perfect; you first have to practice at practicing.”

    He's right about so much - and clearly your photographs are a reflection of your spirit. I can't wait to see where your spirit leads in the New Year. Merry Christmas!

  19. SA: Thank God there is nothing politically correct here in this country when it comes to such things as Sinterklaas and Black Petes! It's tradition and childlike wonder, which I love. I have been more a kid in this last year than in the rest of my life combined. It's a wonder to behold, even for me.

    Those 287 images got reduced to almost 150 and then got picked through again when choosing the best image for the moment. I'm sure it does NOT mean I'm a 'terrific photographer' as much as I'm indecisive about what is the best frame. I like the option of choosing later when I see it on the big screen. And that's the delight of the second blessing...the second time of seeing the joy and the wonder.

    Vision is, in fact, core to photography. I learn and relearn it every time I'm out-n-about, as we were today while capturing Kinderdijk's 19 windmills in the snow. I told Astrid that's where I wanted my ashes spread when the day comes. It's the soul of my earth as I know it. My soul, my spirit. So in that regard, thank you for the quote, which is indeed a gift for this day. Thank you.

  20. Oh you guys are such a hoot! Always on the go. :-)

    Your 'traditional' Christmas dinner sounds just delicious and now I guess you'll be enjoying a couple of relaxing days on your own.

    Merry Christmas to you and Astrid!

  21. The Santa photos are a real hoot and a giant jingle. There's got to be several photo books in your future. Do one on windmills, and I'll be your first customer.

  22. After reading this now for the third time, I will start with the last....The Christmas meal with Jeroen and Eva, that was so special and we all agreed on making this an every year tradition.
    The Chicken Paprikash was delicious.
    The table was set delightful, it was so special.
    That Santa Run was one big feast....snow, laughing people, great weather and you were as a kid so happy.
    Thank you for willing to do fun things.
    We had a wonderful Christmas, thank you for making a home.

  23. Christina: Always on the go is right, and we love it. The Dutch Lady just can't stay inside for long. HA! And what a delightful gift she gave me on Christmas Day...a visit to Kinderdijk!

    Ted: You are such a charmer. Maybe a photo book is a way to go. I sure would love to figure out how to use my photos commercially, if that's in my stars, so to speak. :) Thanks for your encouragement.

    Astrid: We have so many incredible memories...and from one year! Many people don't have that many in a lifetime. I feel so fortunate and blessed. HARTSTIKKE BEDANKT, mijn vrouw.

  24. What a great event. So many Santa and in the snow – I think it would not look as nice if it were a beach in Hawaii. I like all your pictures but especially the one on the upper right of the collage, showing little Santa walking into those big tall trees. What fun – perfect for you and Astrid who have such young spirits.

  25. Vagabonde: This was a Child's delight, no question about it...and I am that child! It would definitely not be the same on the beaches of Hawaii but I think that, too, would be fun. :)