Dec
21

Wait — isn’t Santa supposed to be working?

By
Only fog could make Father Christmas look so ominous.

Only fog could make Father Christmas look so ominous.

I love charity benefit events; I also love Santa Claus (for the brief period each year in which I give him even one thought).  And last Sunday we came upon — or it came upon us — the third edition of an annual run/trot/stroll around half the city called the “Corsa dei Babbo Natale,” or “Race of the Santa Clauses” (Santas Claus?)

This is not unique to Venice, though the landscape here obviously presents some traits not present in Milan, Brescia, Verona, Savona, Belluno, and undoubtedly lots of other places all over Italy.  Sometimes it’s for charity, sometimes it’s just for fun.  Check your local listings.

In the case of Venice, it was organized to benefit AVAPO, the association of volunteers who assist cancer patients and their families.  The event was managed by The Venice Sport Shop and aided by various sponsors, primarily Mizuna, a maker of running shoes. For a modest fee anyone could sign up, get a number and a Santa Claus outfit and some other goodies, and join the crowd running/trotting/strolling from Rialto to Sant’ Elena and back to our own little lobe of Venice, the Giardini Pubblici, where music and refreshments waited.

I would happily have followed it and made lots of pictures of them running across the Piazza San Marco and other landmark sites, but we were set up to go rowing and join the boat procession of — yes — more Santa Clauses in the Grand Canal.  Curses!  We were foiled by fog! Vast, shifting, impenetrable banks of fog which not only would have spoiled the fun for us, but rowing to the church of the Salute would have rendered us a spectacular hazard to navigation.

But on our disappointed walk homeward, we suddenly found ourselves facing an army of S.C.’s swarming toward us.  They were tired, but they were determined, and it was great to see whole families out together.  And then people started greeting Lino by name as they passed, which was especially nice in the case of those who hadn’t yet removed their sweat-inducing beards because somehow Lino recognized virtually every one of the people greeting him. Was it their voice?  Their glasses?  Jewelry?  Birthmark? But as usual, this came as no surprise.  It’s the call of the DNA, which I can confirm overrides costumes, fog, and the passage of time.

But the quartet on the bridge were only the forerunners -- or forewalkers. They were followed by more and more red-breasted Saint Nicholases, who at this point have begun to ditch the beards which are cute, but undoubtedly hot and damp after a while.

But the Clauses on the bridge were only the forerunners — or forewalkers. They were followed by more and more red-breasted Saint Nicholases, who at this point had begun to ditch the beards which are cute, but undoubtedly hot and damp after a while.

They are not making Olympic qualifying times, but who cares?

They are not making Olympic qualifying times, but who cares?  They’re still in the game.

Man Mountain Santa is a prime candidate for testing for growth hormones. Or for extracting them.

Man Mountain Santa is a prime candidate for testing for growth hormones. Or for supplying them.

I have no idea where this boy got such a burst of energy -- at this point there were children being pulled along on their razor scooters. He may have had a vision of something thrilling, though I'm too old to know what that might have been.

I have no idea where this boy got such a burst of energy — at this point there were children being pulled along on their razor scooters. He may have had a vision of something thrilling, though he may just be excited that the fog has lifted enough for him to see anything.

What an adorable chorus line of little girls who appear to have foregone the provided Santa outfit in favor of something tending more toward Little Red Riding Santa.

What an adorable chorus line of little girls who appear to have foregone the provided outfit in favor of something more like Little Red Riding Santa.

As you see. Who but Italians (or I don't know, maybe they're Albanians. Anyway, they're in Italy) could make this outfit look so cool? Anyway, I know for a fact that at least one of these munchkins is half-Moldovan, because that's her mother smiling at me. She's an amazing seamstress and now that I think about it, she probably made all these outfits. In an hour. In her sleep.

As you see. Who but Italians (or I don’t know, maybe they’re Albanians. Anyway, they’re in Italy) could make this outfit look so cool? In any case, I know for a fact that at least one of these munchkins is half-Moldovan, because that’s her mother smiling at me. She’s an amazing seamstress and now that I think about it, she probably made all these outfits. In an hour. In her sleep.

And Fido makes three. His version of "Ho Ho Ho" was impressive.

And Fido makes three. His version of “Ho Ho Ho” was impressive.

If this Santa hasn't run to Venice straight from the North Pole, she at least must come from Hammerfest, where weather like this qualifies as a heat wave.

If this Santa hasn’t run to Venice straight from the North Pole, she at least must come from Hammerfest, where weather like this qualifies as a heat wave.

Mr. Bibendum has decided to branch out.

Bibendum has decided to branch out.

Santa needs funds, his reindeer need fodder,

Santa needs funds, his reindeer need fodder.

img_4437-blog-babbi-11-use-retouch

The finish line for the race is the starting line for the party, just inside the gate at the “Serra,” or municipal greenhouse. They’ve got LAWN SPACE!

And the emergency squad is perfectly garbed in Santa camo. Like they are every day. If you needed an ambulance squad in this crowd, you might have a problem.

And the emergency squad’s everyday uniform blends perfectly with the Santa color scheme.  If you needed to find the first-responders in this crowd, you might have a problem.

People who paid the premium registration fee got the garb, a gadget of some sort, and entrance to the party and rehydration agents. I didn't inquire as to either, but there was music and people looked happy.

People who paid the premium registration fee got the garb, a gadget of some sort, and entrance to the party and rehydration agents. I didn’t inquire as to what they were sipping, but there was music and people looked happy.

And then it was time for Mom-Santa to go the supermarket, get some grub, and take it and the kids home. Back to real life with you!

And then it was time for Mom-Santa to go the supermarket, get some grub, and take it and the kids home. When Santa lands the sleigh, the party’s over.

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Categories : Venetian Events

Comments

  1. Mary Ann De Vlieg says:

    A Christmas treat: you’ve been at your blog again! Thanks for all you do Erla, and have a wonderful Christmas and etcetera… and let’s ALL hope for a better 2017!