When most people think of Christmastime, images of Santa, his reindeer, presents, and Norman Rockwell-esque pictures of families seated around a fire enjoying each other’s company come to mind. For those who know how to have a really jolly holiday, what springs to mind are snaps of handsome men and women in little more than a bright red bow running down the street.
The Santa Skivvies Run is an annual event that takes place in San Francisco, and it has now become something that local residents look forward to every year...and can you blame them? Hundreds of men and women run through the Castro wearing almost nothing at all, and as if that wasn’t enough to convince you to learn more, it’s all for a really great cause.
I spoke with Marc Silva, who is instrumental in bringing this wonderful day of festivities to life every year, and it’s clear that he loves what he does. Wouldn’t you?
Tell me about the Santa Skivvies Run--what exactly is it and how did this get started?
Marc: Santa Skivvies Run is a fundraiser and underwear fun run through the heart of the Castro district here in San Francisco. This is the tenth anniversary of the event, which was started by Chris Hastings, the owner of the bar Lookout. San Francisco AIDS Foundation joined forces with Lookout and they now produce it together, making it a pretty unique partnership. The bar originally called it Santa Speedo Run but on the second year it changed to Santa Skivvies Run. People dress up in red underwear or any festive costume…sometimes barely anything. It’s a really great way to celebrate body positivity while fighting HIV stigma.
Where do the funds raised go?
Marc: The money raised through the efforts of the runners, volunteers, and from Lookout, goes to San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The foundation works to address the HIV epidemic here in San Francisco by providing free treatment and prevention services, as well as community education, advocacy and policy work. We have a prominent health and wellness clinic in the Castro that provides HIV and STI testing and treatment, mental health and substance use services, and serves as a community space.
Picture Curiosity of the San Francisco Aids Foundation
How many people do you have take part in the run annually?
Marc: Last year we had about 325 people run, which was a record. We hope to have about the same this year but would love more! There are also other ways to get involved too. You can register as a runner or a volunteer quickly and easily on the website.
What's going to make this year's event even more exciting?
Marc: This event is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s my Christmas. I wanted to make the fundraising awards extra cool this year for the tenth anniversary, so we came up with the phrase “Hella Jolly” to put on our merch and fundraising awards. There just isn’t another place in the world where you can run around in red underwear in December, making this a uniquely Northern California event, hence the “hella.” We are also going to have some new and fun underwear-themed games, and plenty of Insta-worthy opportunities.
Talk to me about Daftboy's involvement in this year's event.
Marc: Last year Daftboy produced our Santa Skivvies Run fan, which is given out as a fundraising award and not available for purchase. They immediately became an icon of the event and people were devastated when they learned that they couldn’t buy them. Last year’s fan said “Sleigh, Queen!” which is a fitting phrase. We are so excited to partner with Daftboy again for this year’s fan.
What is a common misconception you hear a lot about this event?
Marc: There is one misconception that we get all the time. People think the event is a 5k or a marathon and are intimidated that they have to do it in their underwear. It is literally a little more than one mile long, and is WAY more of a party than an endurance event. It starts and ends at a bar! There is a block party, a fashion show, fundraising awards, games, and plenty of photo ops. People come up with really fabulous outfits, it really is a sight to see.
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