Hundreds of skiing Santas hit the slopes for a good cause

A skier dressed as Santa Claus heads downhill during the annual Santa Sunday event, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Newry, Maine. The red-suited lookalikes aim to put a smile on people’s faces while raising money for charity. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) –The Associated Press

NEWRY, Maine (AP) — Hundreds of skiing and snowboarding jolly Old St. Nicks hit the slopes Sunday in Maine for a good cause.

About 300 red-suited lookalikes gathered for the 19th annual Santa Sunday in the tiny western Maine town of Newry, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northwest of Portland. This year’s crop of Kris Kringles was among the largest, organizers said, despite rain in the morning.

The skiing Santas participate in full garb, including a white beard, red hat and red outfit. The Santas must all donate a minimum of $20, which helps support local education and recreation programs.

“There’s something about seeing 300 Santas ski down the mountain to support a great cause that puts people in the holiday spirit,” said Caroline Ochtera, Director of Events for Sunday River.

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Karren Williams, 58, who has participated for several years, said she practiced ahead of time. “You got to ‘ho-ho’ a lot down the hill,” said Williams, who works at a pharmaceutical company in Boston. “You’ve got to do that whole jolly thing.”

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