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A charity run through holiday lights
Runners can tour Lake Lanier Islands' holiday display in 5K event
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Lanier Under the Lights 5K

What: Run to benefit Toys for Tots and Hamilton Mill Christian Church

When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Lake Lanier Islands, 7000 Holiday Road, Buford

The Magical Nights of Lights always is a favorite event for North Georgians, but this weekend some local runners will get the chance race through the Christmas lights to benefit Toys for Tots and Hamilton Mill Christian Church.

Steve Durling, Flowery Branch resident and organizer for Run for the Fallen, decided to organize the event for the first time this year and the response has been amazing. Durling planned for 750 runners and 1,100 are now registered for the race.

"This race could have easily been 2,500 runners ... your typical 5K is somewhere around 75 to 150, so this is definitely good," he said. "This is a totally different run through the lights, it's so cool. If we have 1,100 runners and half of them bring a toy, that's a lot of toys."

The event is the holiday season kickoff for the Toys for Tots program. Runners have the chance to win several raffle prizes with the donation of a toy valued at $10 or more.

Prizes will include restaurant gift cards, electronics and a pre-lit Christmas tree from Hobby Lobby.

The race will begin near the clock tower at Lake Lanier Islands and will continue past the 12 Days of Christmas, reindeer, toy soldiers and the snowflake arches display. Snacks and drinks will be offered to participants afterward.

"Spectators will be at the start/finish area ... that's always encouraged," Durling said. "They will be able to see well over a mile of the Magical Nights of Lights simply by coming in and out."

At 5:10 p.m. Saturday, Bob Mahan with Hamilton Mill Christian Church will give race instructions, lead everyone in prayer and Jennifer Cagle will sing the National Anthem.