CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (CBS) — “Ho, ho, ho,” turned into, “No, no, no,” for a charity Santa race in the northwest suburbs thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

But a year later, Santas by the hundred are set to hit the streets once again. CBS 2’s Jim Williams had a look at the preps needed to make it happen.

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Upon first glance, you might think Mike Splitt was in the apparel business, or that he’s outfitting department store Santas. Nope; stacking box after box at his office, Splitt is preparing for one of Crystal Lake’s biggest events of the year.

“It’s a sea of red out here,” in downtown Crystal Lake, he said.

The McHenry County Santa Run for Kids returns in person this year on the first Sunday of December. Splitt is the race director.

“It’s a fun event. You wear the beard, wear the costume basically, all for a good cause,” he said.

The Santa Run raises money for several charities.

“We provide programs for girls from 3rd to 8th grade. It’s a running foreword that helps empower girls,” said Michelle Stien, project manager for the non-profit Girls on the Run,

Michael Neumannn said tells us his organization, Turning Point, will able to provide more help for victims of domestic violence thanks to the race.

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“We’re helping them get orders of protection. We’re helping them get jobs if they’re not working. We’re helping them open bank accounts if they don’t have bank accounts,” he said.

And providing tighter security at Turning Point’s shelter.

At its peak, the Santa Run for Kids had about 1,000 runners. Then the pandemic hit, and last year participation dipped as the race was held virtually.

Only about 150 runners did the race online a year ago. Like many charitable events, it too was hurt by COVID.

“It killed us,” Splitt said.

But now The McHenry County Santa Run for Kids is back for its tenth run; the spirit of Saint Nick in a sweeping sea of red.

“This year we’re coming back, people are more comfortable, people are getting their vaccines, and we’re hoping to come back where we should be,” Splitt said.

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The race has hundreds of spots open. To sign up, follow this link.