2021ChristmasTown 5K is five months away, but one North Pole resident is already planning to race the holiday-lit streets of McAdenville.
No, I didn’t say “the North Pole”. Everyone knows that Santa Claus is far too busy at the end of November to stray from his workshop to run a 5K, even if it’s in ChristmasTown USA.
(We won’t even get into Santa’s questionable physical condition, which includes a quivering stomach like a bowl full of jelly, and his possible nicotine addiction, manifested in his constant puffs on a pipe.)
What I said was “North Pole”. As in the North Pole, in Alaska, a village located 20 kilometers southeast of Fairbanks and home to just over 2,000 people, including Patty Mulcare, originally from Gaston County.
I spoke with Patty on the phone a recent morning when she reported a blue sky over the North Pole with a mid-70s temperature. Sounds pretty cool, huh?
Try to visit the small market town in January, when the sun only stays above the horizon for just over four hours a day and the temperature can drop to as low as 60 degrees below zero.
As you might expect, the small town capitalizes on its name to attract tourists looking for a bit of the Christmas spirit – even if they are visiting in midsummer.
The streets of the city bear names such as “Santa Claus Lane”, “St. Nicholas Drive” and “Kris Kringle Drive”. The city’s most successful retail business is a huge gift shop known as Santa’s House.
Patty has lived in Alaska for about 36 years now, meeting her husband Patrick there in the mid-1980s. The couple have two grown children, Nicholas, 29, and Ashlyn, 26, who still live in the land of the midnight sun.
A graduate of Hunter Huss High School, Patty went to college in Dallas, Texas, then moved to Alaska to work first as a travel consultant, then for Alaska Airlines.
Her husband owns a landscaping business and she now maintains the accounts for the business. But although she’s made Alaska home for four decades, Gaston County and McAdenville still hold a special place in her heart.
âI love McAdenville,â she said. âIt’s one of my favorite places in the world. I remember going to see the Christmas lights when I was a little girl. It’s such a tradition that connects generations of families with a magical experience. “
Patty first arrived in the south to lead ChristmasTown 5K in 2017.
âI had a friend who ran 5k, 10k and half marathons and she wanted me to start running with her,â Patty recalls. “So four years ago, I started months ahead, walking and running, to prepare for this 5K.”
Patty, who is now 56, enjoyed this first race so much that she returned in 2018 and 2019.
âIt’s so much fun,â she said of the race, which traditionally takes place on the Saturday night after Thanksgiving. “Everyone dresses in Christmas outfits, you walk through all these lights, you are really having a wonderful time.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the usual running of the race in 2020, making it a “virtual” event. Missing the race last year made Patty even more eager to come back this year.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. âIt has become a tradition for me, a tradition that I want to continue. It’s so nice when you run with this crowd, it really energizes you.â
The chance to race ChristmasTown 5K isn’t the only thing that brings Patty back to her roots in Gaston County. She enjoys the opportunity to meet up with family and friends and always makes a special stop when in town.
âI love Tony’s Ice Cream,â she said. “This is one of my favorite places to visit.”
ChristmasTown 5K will take place on Saturday, November 27 at 6 p.m. in downtown McAdenville. Full details on the race and how to register can be found at www.mcadenville-christmastown.com.
Bill Poteat, who thanks Roxann Rankin for this column idea, can be reached at 704-869-1855 or [email protected]