Brennan’s Ugly Sweater Run returns in a virtual format this December

The annual memorial and fundraiser run reaches new levels of support as it adapts to new normals

Comazzetto is hopeful that this year will be as much of a success as it has been in the past. (Sammi Lukan/Submitted)

In a year shattered by a global pandemic, many traditions have been forcefully put on hold until new normal emerges. However, one tradition is taking to the streets of Kamloops and communities beyond this December, as the annual Brennan’s Ugly Sweater Run returns in a virtual, distanced format.

The memorial five km event named after Brennan Comazzetto, whose life was taken by a drunk driver in 1999, has long since been a festive family-friendly event within the Kamloops community.

On top of presenting an opportunity for locals to show their festive spirits, running or walking in their ugliest Christmas sweaters, the event demonstrates the community’s capacity to support those in need, generosity needed, especially in 2020.

Such as in years previous, 100 per cent of event registration proceeds go to the Boy and Girls Club Power Start program, an organization that has already seen a busy year, according to Event Founder and Coordinator Payton Comazzetto.

“Luckily, the Boys and Girls Club’s Power Start program still continued during the lockdown. They delivered over 4,800 breakfasts to children in the Kamloops community,” Comazzetto stated.

The program’s work throughout the year was a critical factor in Comazzetto’s decision to organize her run again this year, despite the challenges put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic

“It’s pretty hard to not want to do something to support that program, and I just can’t give it up. It’s a great memorial for my brother,” Comazzetto said.

Ultimately deciding in September that the run would indeed take place, Comazzetto began planning for what would be an unconventional event – a virtual race that was going to need a lot of online engagement to succeed.

But as always, the outpour of support the event gathers started coming through, Comazzetto saying that prizes and giveaways for this year’s event have already surpassed 2019’s $13,000 value for a current total of over $18,000. 

“This year, not only are people supporting us, but they’re actually sending food and drinks to the Boys and Girls Club Power Start program as well,” Comazzetto said.

In addition to proceeds already donated to the Power Start program, the event aims to raise $15,000 through event registration donations, enough to feed 120 children in 2021.

As for the run itself, a virtual event has opened the door to new levels of inclusion, from participants joining in and registering from different continents to pets squeezing into ugly sweaters of their own.

“We’ve never allowed dogs previously into the run. I think it would be cool to see dogs in sweaters. There’s a couple of cats signed up and I really want to know how that goes,” Comazzetto laughed.

Participants will complete the 5km walk, run or snowshoe on December 6, 2020, between 6:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. sharing photos through social media for a chance to win prizes announced on a Facebook and Instagram live stream at 4:30 p.m.

Kamloops participants are also encouraged to stop by Amplified Coffee downtown between 10 to 2 p.m. for distance hot chocolate and photos in addition to exclusive prizes and swag bags.

“I hope to see a lot of genuine happiness going on because that truly is the goal,” Comazzetto said.