We live on a quiet street. Each house is surrounded by a wooded acre. Our only excitement is watching small wild animals frolic in our yards.
On the first Saturday in December all that changes. The Community Center holds “The Jingle Bell Run.” The first year of the run, about thirty people participated and they were probably the committee members.
This year hundreds participated.
On the morning of the event, everyone registers at the Community Center and gets a number and a necklace of bells.
The people who live along the route have been prepared in advance because their roads will be closed off for about one hour. Also, there are bells left in each mailbox asking the residents to come out, ring the bells and cheer the runners.
The pistol is shot off at 9:30 am. The runners start up the main road through the Historic District past the pristine old homes.
After five blocks, the first turn is our street. Now, December in Connecticut may be ten degrees, or thirty degrees with high winds, or have six inches of snow, or be as warm as an April day. We never know what to expect, and neither do the meteorologists.
If it is a mild day, everyone goes out to the curb to watch. If it’s cold, the older people watch through the glass doors in the foyers. Just the children bundle up and go outside.
The children jump up and down, ring their bells, wave flags – they do anything they can think of because they are so excited.
First come the police to be sure the roads are clear. Then comes a pink convertible with Santa waving his heart out.
The true athletes follow. They are trained, performing, competing in their spandex. Each wants the prize.
Next come people who have spent much time in the gym. They do not care about the prize. They are here to show off their buff bodies. They wear tight shorts and short sleeved t-shirts no matter what the weather may be.
Next come our neighbors who run up and down the streets daily, just trying to keep healthy.
My favorite group is the families. Dads wear Santa suits. Moms push strollers while holding the dog’s leash. Children tag along with Santa hats.
Once, a small boy had a red back pack. He stopped every couple of feet to fill it with stones, sticks, acorns – all sorts of treasures. Dad lifted the boy and the back pack on his shoulders. A little girl skipped in circles until she got lost.
This group is not going to win a trophy but they enjoy the journey.
Next are older folks who just walk and talk.
A police car follows at the end.
One has to wonder, how many people turn around and walk home? How many go back to the Community Center, have cocoa and wait for the runners? And just how many run the whole course?
When the runners have passed our street, we treat ourselves to cocoa and marshmallows.
For us, this happy event is the start of the holiday season.
Our street will be quiet for another year.