Those participating in the city of Pickerington's second "Merry Mile" can choose to either run or walk in the winter wonderland of Olde Pickerington Village Friday, Dec. 13.
The free event kicks off at 6 p.m. at Pickerington City Hall, 100 Lockville Rd. and again will wind its way through the heart of downtown Pickerington.
However, this year there are some added components that organizers hope will make the Merry Mile even better.
"We learned a lot from 2012's inaugural event and looked for ways to make the Merry Mile even better for 2013," said Tammy Sawyer, executive assistant to Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray.
"There are actual winners in four different age categories so this is a race to the finish line for those that like the competition," said Sawyer, adding that to win one must be outfitted in holiday attire.
In addition, Sawyer said Merry Mile souvenirs will be given to the first 100 participants or families that arrive and every participant will receive jingle bells to tie to their running or walking shoes.
She said downtown Pickerington will also be aglow with holiday lights, adding to the festive atmosphere.
"The (Pickerington) Parks Department added Christmas lights to the Olde Village trees for the first time in many, many years," Sawyer said.
The mission is to simply get everyone outside and moving as a community, she said..
"Exercise is more fun when you have someone to do it with," Sawyer said. "So, why not exercise with the whole city?"
She said just like last year there are no stringent rules for participation in the Merry Mile.
"Anyone can participate and all ages are welcome," Sawyer said.
"Last year we had people with jogging strollers, adults and kids running and walking and young people on rollerblades and bikes," she said.
The Merry Mile brought an impressive tally of 200 hardy souls downtown last year. Organizers anticipate another large contingent of Merry-Milers Dec. 13.
"We had a lot of success with this event last year, so there was no question that we would do it again," Gray said.
"It's a free event that brings families and neighbors together during the holiday season."
He said there is also a lot of fun to be had at the communal party immediately following the race.
"Since it's only a mile, the race itself goes by pretty quickly," Gray said. "Then we enjoy each others company, by the fireplace, in Victory Park."
The post-race event in Victory Park will include live music, free hot chocolate and free popcorn as well as a special appearance from Santa Claus.
The event is free, but participants are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to the PCMA Pickerington Food Pantry.
There is no pre-registration for the event and no pets are allowed.
Parking is available on all city lots and at Ridgeview Junior High School.