December Dash: Santa to the Sea

A California Christmas icon is a key player in the yearly half-marathon and 5K.

A MID-CENTURY FAVORITE: Mention just about any building or landmark or physical feature of the landscape to someone who grew up in the LA-to-Santa Barbara nexus in the last sixty years, and they're bound to shrug and say "yep, that building has been around for awhile, hoo boy." But say the words "Carpinteria Santa Claus" and suddenly eyes take on a certain sparkle and suddenly the person is reminiscing about the first time her parents drove past the 101-adjacent icon, a giant Kris Kringle that gazed over the 101, regardless of the time of year. The Carp Claus was a sentimental favorite. Initially built to whimsy-up a juice stand, the mega merry statue became a part of Central California lore. 

BUT SANTA IS REAL: So when 2003 rolled around, and the Santa was taken down, no longer deemed to be the right representative for that particular location, it took a few years, and some local elbow grease, to find his new spot, and found it was: Nyeland Acres in Oxnard. And with Santa's new home came a new event: Santa to the Sea. The half marathon, run mostly over flat, easy ground from the statue to the Pacific Ocean, is staged each December, and, for sure, many a participant wheres some red and jingle bells, the better to honor the 13.1er's symbolic statue.

SUNDAY, DEC. 14: There's a 5K, too, if you don't want to do the halfie, and might be better if you come in full costume (some elaborate Grinches have been spotted in years past). It's just about the most Christmassy athletic event around, if you need to combine your holiday fun and your health, and there's a festival at the finish line to boot. Best of all, you get to wave at the jolliest statue to ever grace the 101, or possibly any highway of America. The Carp Claus is still kickin', just now down Oxnard way.

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