Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 | 12:53 p.m.
As one of the most wonderful Las Vegas holiday traditions, it also has become one of the most anticipated local events.
It may have been by the narrowest of numbers and the slimmest of margins, but it was enough for our beloved organization Opportunity Village to once again for the ninth consecutive year claim the Guinness World Record for the largest number of Santa-suited runners.
Superstar and Caesars Palace headliner Shania Twain was this year’s grand marshal for the first time, and with her own team running — including her husband Frederic Thiebaud and her sister Carrie Ann Brown — she helped send the record number to more than 11,200.
Not only was it 1,000 more than last year’s entries, but it also beat last weekend’s 10,700-strong challenge from rival entrants in Liverpool, England. Our O.V. final number also convincingly beat similar events in Japan and Tasmania off the Australian coast.
Shania, dressed in a stylish white Santa helper coat, hat and scarf, said, “It’s such a thrill to be here. It kicks off the holiday season with a wonderful spirit.” My interview with Shania about Opportunity Village’s 2013 Great Santa Run was posted on Thursday.
Despite chilly temperatures and brisk winds, Chippendales at the Rio hunks Jace Crispin and Gavin McHale still went bare chested to accompany Mayor Carolyn Goodman as she read the official proclamation and the City of Liverpool’s mayoral challenge. I joined her onstage to greet the Liverpool contingent, which held the Santa trophy for only 15 minutes before O.V. wrested it back!
“Jersey Boys” at the Paris star Jeff Leibow, Luxor headliners Jabbawockeez with a giant polar bear character, Zowie Bowie’s Chris Phillips and the O.V. Elvi troupe provided entertainment to the Santa runners as they assembled for the starting pistol.
O.V. directors Linda Smith and Ed Guthrie expected the mile-long walk and the 5K run to raise more than $250,000 for the charity’s programs that support children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Our thanks to Steve Marcus of the Las Vegas Sun and contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for their great photo galleries. Please check back soon for more photos from Denise Truscello of WireImage.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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