The sound of Christmas will echo through the Nichols area when 800 expected runners, equipped with jingle bells, participate in the 26th annual Jingle Bell Run Saturday, Dec. 5.

For more than a quarter of a century, members of the Nichols Improvement Association and race president, Fred Palmieri, have hosted the race to raise money to help fund projects in the Nichols area.

Palmieri said in previous years the money has gone towards purchasing Christmas lights for the town, as well as replacing the beloved Christmas tree that fell during the hurricane.

Although there are no urgent projects to address and finish this year, Palmieri said there is definitely no shortage of projects to start.

He said that’s how the race started 26 years ago when the community came together and wanted to fix the bunny fountain on the corner of Unity Road and Huntington Turnpike. He said a member of the town decided a race would be a great way to raise the money and the race carried on since.

Palmieri wants to remind everyone that this is family race and that anyone can participate, even if you don’t run, or even enter.

“It’s called the Jingle Bell Run,” he said. “But I’ve seen people walk it before…a lot of people come down just to watch the runners and cheer (the runners) on.”

He said this is a perfect family event and a great way to kick off the Christmas season. He said in this day and age, it’s unfortunate because people don’t get a chance to see their neighbors as often as he can remember. He said he loves to see the whole community come out.

Palmieri said also this is a perfect way to kick off your new years resolution a little bit early.

“This is the time of year the people start thinking of resolutions for January,” he said. “Why not test yourself out and see how you do?”

He said one need not worry if they will come in first or last. Palmieri says it is a non-competitive atmosphere and that’s one reason why he keeps coming back to race.

“I’ve been doing this for 12 years and I’ve never one, never got a trophy,” he said.  

The event starts this Saturday, Dec. 5 with registration at the Nichols United Methodist Church at 7:30 a.m., a Jingle Bell Run Jr. race starting at 9:15 a.m., and the official race starting at 9:30 a.m.