Omaha's first Ugly Sweater Run draws 5,000, collects 2,500 toys -
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Omaha's first Ugly Sweater Run draws 5,000, collects 2,500 toys

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There were no Grinches at Omaha's first-ever Ugly Sweater Run on Sunday, just 5,000 or so jolly elves who made for quite a festive gathering.

They came with gold ribbons, green bows and striped stockings. They came with red caps, high spirits and even self-mocking.

The Christmas Tree Girls, four young women from Lincoln, came “because we wanted to have some beers and some fun,” Michele Good said.

They wore poinsettia flowers in their hair, Christmas bulb earrings, garish blue and green tutus and red ribbons on their running shoes. Their “sweaters” were actually green sweatshirts festooned with ribbons, garland and bows.

The 5K Ugly Sweater Run was organized by Human Movement Management event specialists of Louisville, Colo. Company founder Jeff Suffolk, 32, said he started the company 10 years ago to generate community excitement and donations for charities.

Approximately 2,500 items were collected Sunday for Toys for Tots, Suffolk said.

No official times were recorded for the runners, but numerous awards were given, including prizes for the worst and best Christmas sweaters, as well as the best real and fake mustaches.

The 3.1-mile course included a snow field, created with a wood chipper and blocks of ice; an enchanted forest made up of about 30 Christmas trees; and the organizers' reinvention of Clark Griswold's front yard as portrayed in the movie “National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.”

Revelers were invited to hang out afterward in the parking lots around the CenturyLink Center or to move to the Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill.

Suffolk's company also organized Ugly Sweater Runs in Las Vegas and Tampa, Fla., over the weekend. He said he chose to attend Omaha's event because he is partial to the city.

“This is all about having fun and doing some good at the same time, and Omaha's very good at that,” Suffolk said. “We produced two other fun runs here — the Color Run and the Dirty Girl Mud Run — and we are big fans of the community. I think it's one of the best cities in the United States.”

Suffolk could have been talking about Adam Dusatko and six of his friends. Wearing reindeer antlers, they pulled a sleigh made from a shopping cart that held an inflatable Santa Claus.

The group members wore some of the ugliest Christmas sweaters this side of the bargain bin. The sweaters were provided courtesy of the mother of reindeers Cori Lightfoot and Andrea Ross.

“Our mom is a Christmas freak,” Lightfoot said with a laugh. “She has 70 Christmas trees in her house; over 35 of them are at least 4 feet high.”

Ugly-sweater shopping began in October for Nicole Beller and her friends. Beller and Lisa Oberhauser of Omaha said they picked up their eye-gouging gear with Sunday's run specifically in mind.

“You've got to start early for the really ugly ones,” Beller said. “Everyone is always buying them. I have another ugly sweater party later this week.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1272,

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