THOUSANDS of jingle-joggers are set to paint the town red at the Great Edinburgh Santa Run.
Festive fundraisers of all ages will run, walk and stroll around West Princes Street Gardens on a two-kilometre circuit tomorrow.
It is all for a good Santa cause because the event has been organised in aid of the children’s charity When You Wish Upon a Star, which sends courageous kids with life threatening illnesses on a trip of a lifetime to Lapland.
And this year, everyone in the family will be able to take part in the run, with prizes even on offer for the best dressed pooch and the best dressed buggy.
Hundreds of people are set to attend tomorrow’s run, which kicks off at 11am. The guest of honour will be Huxley, who will officially start the Santa Run.
Dressed in his very own Santa outfit, the four-month-old Golden Retriever is a guide dog puppy in training – who has been named after his sponsors, The Huxley bar and restaurant in Rutland Street.
All dogs are encouraged to dress up as Santa with Huxley presenting the best dressed dog with a special prize – a dog treat stocking. Huxley will join the Stockbridge and Edinburgh Postal Pipeband as the event is declared open.
Full-time mum Anne Duncan, 44, from Morningside, will be taking part in the event alongside her family, Pete, 48, a university lecturer, Ella, eight, Ruby, six and Roxy, three.
“The event really works for people of all ages because it’s silly, funny and Christmassy,” she says.
“The kids are really into the idea of lots of Santas running about Princes Street Gardens.
“It appeals to youngsters because it’s a charity for children and one that they can understand and relate to – Christmas is about having fun but it’s also about thinking about people who are less fortunate.
“A big part of the enjoyment is that we are helping other people.
“We intend to make a real day of it and combine it with a day out to the Christmas market.”
The money raised will make a huge difference to the lives of children who are struggling with life threatening illnesses.
Each year, When You Wish Upon A Star sends youngsters to a winter playground in Lapland where they ride on skidoos, snowmobiles, quad bikes and go skiing and sledging.
The children get to experience a husky ride as well as enjoy a traditional sleigh ride with Rudolph and his reindeer friends before meeting the man they have come to see – the real Father Christmas.
Now in its ninth year, around 1000 people take part in the Great Edinburgh Santa Run.
The charity holds events across the length and breadth of the UK but the Capital’s continues to prove the most popular.
And all of the money raised by families at Sunday’s run will remain within Scotland.
“The trips are incredible for the children,” says When You Wish Upon A Star Scotland fundraising manager Margaret Rowarth.
“They go through so much throughout the year with their illnesses and the treatment that they have.
“We take as many children as we can – at least one parent and one child – and we if we have seats left over on the plane we offer them to other family members.
“It’s a very exciting day for them.
“The Edinburgh event always proves popular because it’s such a fantastic place.
“Although it’s a big city and it’s cosmopolitan, it’s very family orientated and all sorts of people take part.
“We have people from all over the country who come to the Capital for the Santa Run and make a weekend of it.”
UK Zumba fitness presenter and education specialist Donna Giffen will lead the Santas and elves through a Christmas warm-up to ensure they are ready to go.
The event kicks off at Princes Street Gardens, by the Ross Bandstand, on Sunday at 11am.
To register to take part, call Margaret Rowarth on 01357 529 950 or visit the charity’s website at www.thesantarun.org.uk.