Clad in dresses, wool sweaters, shorts, capes, leg warmers, tights, wigs and anything else the color of red, about 220 people made spectacles of themselves, had plenty of fun and raised money for a good cause Saturday afternoon in Moline.
The group, which had drivers and bystanders gawking all across their route, was participating in the fourth annual Red Dress Run sponsored by the Quad-City Hash House Harriers-Dirty Pirate Chapter.
All of the proceeds from this year’s run were donated to the Wounded Warrior Project in honor of Flynn G. Schulz, 33, who died of a fall Aug. 31. Schulz was a member of the Army National Guard and served as a sergeant and team leader in the A2-123D Field Artillery while stationed at Camp Liberty near Baghdad, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2006.
Schulz was also a fun-loving member of the Hash House Harriers, said run coordinator and hasher Mandy Wright, 35, of Orion, Ill.
Each year, proceeds from the Red Dress Run, which is celebrating its 26th anniversary internationally this year, go to a charity selected by the individual Hash House Harriers chapter, she said.
“The turnout this year is phenomenal,” she added. “The first year we had about 12 people. This year, we had 180 sign up through Facebook and then another 40 during race-day signups.”
The run began at McManus Pub, 1401 7th Ave., Moline, traveled to a nearby park and then on to the Parkside Grill and Lounge, 2307 5th Ave., where the runners quenched their thirst.
Jan Wagner, 56, of Rock Island, dressed in a multi-colored wig, long wool sweaters and leggings, stood outside the Parkside sipping on a beer and puffing a cigarette.
“This is my first run,” she said with a chuckle before the more than 200 runners and walkers poured into the street and headed off for Center Ice at Bass Street Landing, the outdoor skating rink in downtown Moline.
Amy Williamson, 37, of Rock Island, and a friend also were running their first race. “We look on Facebook for events and we happened to see the page for this event,” she said before heading off to the skating rink.
Drivers slowed and did double-takes as the runners, walkers and even some prancers and dancers made their way across River Drive.
Wright said she joined the group and began hashing, as the runs and events are called, in August 2012. “I couldn't run to the end of the block then,” she said, but her most recent race was a half-marathon.
Matt Parise, 31, of Bettendorf, admitted he was not a runner before joining in July 2012. “All I was doing was a little running to get into shape.” He, too, has notched a half-marathon since then.
For Parise, though, the group came together in a big way Jan. 30, when his wife, Danielle, suffered a cerebral arteriovenous malformation rupture. She was taken to University Hospitals in Iowa City for surgery, and her recovery will be lengthy.
Parise said the Hash House Harriers sponsored a fundraiser at Cool Beanz Coffeehouse, 1325 30th St., Rock Island, whose owner, Annette Zapolis, 26, is also a hasher.
“I’ve made more good friends with this group,” he said.
Dirty Pirate Chapter founder Nathan Tackett, 40, of East Moline, said he was a hasher as a Marine stationed in Japan during 1994. Tackett said he and a buddy were having a beer one day and said they’d been talking about forming a Quad-City chapter and finally did so Jan. 1, 2010.
Tackett said he’s happy to see the Red Dress Run growing. “The last two years it’s been exploding,” he added.
Roger Loesch, 43, of Moline, the emergency services director at the American Red Cross of the Quad-Cities Area, is a hasher. “I did my first Red Dress Run in 1999 when I was in the Air Force stationed in Osan Air Base in South Korea.
“I’m glad to see the Red Dress Run is still for charity,” he said, adding that the hashers here are members of a worldwide brotherhood and sisterhood of fun-loving people who also happen to run. “We have members from all walks of life in the group.”
Zapolis, who has been a hasher for two years, said there are plenty of young professionals in the group, as well as people in their 50s who don’t feel their age and stay active. The group, she added, is for anyone who wants to stay in shape, as well as “have a lot of crazy fun.”
The Hash House Harriers, described as a social version of Hare and Hounds by some members, were established in 1938 by British colonial officers based in Selayang Quarry, Selangor, which is now known as Malaysia, according to the organization's website.