Founder Bares All: The Skinny on Santa Skivvies Run

For the past five years, the Santa Skivvies Run has taken over the streets of the Castro for a holiday event benefitting San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Chris Hastings, owner of Lookout, sat down with SFAF to explain why hundreds of San Franciscans strip down to their underwear to race through the streets every December, and what runners can expect at the run this year on December 6.

How did the Santa Skivvies Run begin?

I started the event here at Lookout five years ago. I think there were 30 people who ran that first year, so it was pretty small. The money we raised that first year we donated to San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Everyone who was here had such a good time participating in it, we decided to grow the event.

That’s when we reached out to the foundation. Santa Skivvies Run grew really quickly during the first three years. We added the Santa’s Village a couple of years ago because we couldn’t fit everyone inside the Lookout! We’ve had about 450 people participate in the last few years, and I expect that we’ll have over 500 Santas running this year.

For people who haven’t run Santa Skivvies before, can you give us an idea of what the experience is like?

It’s a lot of fun. There’s definitely a bonding experience that comes from running through the streets of San Francisco in your underwear with a bunch of strangers! So people are in a cut-loose and festive mood.

For a lot of people, it’s become an annual tradition that marks the beginning of the holiday season. This is something I’m definitely proud of and that I think it’s really cool that it’s become this annual event that’s part of the entire holiday experience in San Francisco.

What’s new this year?

We’re changing the format a little bit this year so that we can continue to grow the event, increase its exposure, and bring more attention to the event and to the cause. That’s why we’re holding it on a Saturday, and changing the route.

The actual run is the same distance as before. It’s a 1.6 mile route that starts at UN Plaza and ends at Lookout in the Castro. We’re coming up Market Street, which I think is going to be a lot of fun!

All of the fundraising proceeds raised by runners benefit programs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Why did you decide to donate to SFAF, and eventually partner with the organization?

I really admire the services—and the range of services—that SFAF provides. SFAF provides free services like drug and alcohol use counseling, HIV testing, needle exchange, and support for people with HIV—all things that help our community. 

Every year, for the past couple of years, the event has raised over $50,000 for SFAF. I’d really like to see it raise over $75,000 this year. 

Sign up for Santa Skivvies Run and help us end HIV transmission. The Santa Skivvies Run will be held on Saturday, December 6 at 9 a.m. Find more information and register for the event.  


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