A nearly naked Saint Nick climbing down the chimney in the middle of the night might sound terrifying, but Astoria residents were all smiles Saturday when a group of scantily clad Kris Kringles stripped for charity and streaked through the neighborhood.
Participants in the second annual Santa Streak were baring it all for good reason: They gave away their clothes to charity.
The event is the brainchild of Ran Craycraft, creator of the neighborhood-centric blog whyleaveastoria.com.
“It’s for people around the neighborhood to shed their clothes for a good cause,” Craycraft said.
All the donated items went to New York Cares, a Manhattan-based nonprofit that collects clothing, offers volunteer opportunities and provides youth programs around the five boroughs.
About 50 Santas took up the cause, and around noon were fueling up for the run at Hellgate on the Park, a bar at 19-19 Ditmars Blvd.
The route went along the waterfront of Astoria Park and ended at the Hellgate Social Club, another bar, at 12-21 Astoria Blvd.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), fully clothed in a polo shirt and sports coat, stuck out in the crowd.
“You never know what you’re going to see at this event — literally,” he said, surrounded on all sides by Santas barely clothed in a variety of garb: red underwear, striped boxer briefs held up by suspenders, what appeared to be a holiday-themed codpiece or just barely covered in tinsel. Many donned Santa hats. One participant regretted not wearing a fake beard to hide his identity.
On the heels of the recent Zombie Walk, where legions of the undead wandered 30th Avenue, Vallone said Astoria is gaining a reputation as a happening neighborhood.
“That’s what Astoria is all about,” he said.
As the group limbered up and walked en masse to the start of the run, residents came out of their houses to gawk at the streakers.
“I thought they were great. They were hysterical,” said Andrea Mardach, who had seen them the year before as well.
Eddie Garcia has lived in the neighborhood for 53 years and commended the streakers for donating to charity in their own unique way.
“I think it’s just young people enjoying themselves and doing something crazy,” he said.
Though the runners had no pockets, Craycraft said local businesses donated prizes for the streakers at an after-party at the Hellgate Social Club.
Craycraft said the idea for the Santa Streak came to him after he participated in Santa Con, a day where thousands of often inebriated Santas can be seen invading the streets and subways in Manhattan.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2011 Community News Group
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