Arrow-right Camera


Monkey business as usual

Mon., May 8, 2006

To a man dressed in an enormous, shaggy gorilla suit, a sunny Bloomsday is a bad Bloomsday.

So when a light rain fell and a cool breeze rustled through the runners and walkers in the lilac section – the last group to start before the strollers – those dressed in costumes seemed happiest of all.

“This weather was a godsend,” said Ira Amstadter, who spent his fifth Bloomsday dressed in a full-body gorilla suit. Three other gorillas joined Amstadter on the course, and while others complained of lower temperatures, the weather was perfect for an ape. Last year, when temperatures approached 70 degrees, Amstadter said he lost 8 ½ pounds in sweat.

Amstadter, like a few dozen other costume-clad racers, said a little lightheartedness helps everybody cross the finish line faster – and easier.

“It’s so much fun with the kids,” he said. “We just like to help people out and have fun.”

For another costumed duo, the race was a cakewalk.

Jill Marshall wore an enormous lilac cake and Denise Mosegaard dressed as a present to celebrate Bloomsday’s 30th birthday.

“You’ve gotta stand out in a crowd, and you’ve gotta get on TV,” Mosegaard said. Last year the two joined others to form a four-headed T-shirt, and before that they participated as their own brand of Lilac princesses.

Tyler Edwards and Sam Waples, both 15, donned elaborate costumes for the race. Waples wore a yellow Pac-Man costume made from plastic pipe and cloth, and Edwards followed with a red Blinky getup.

“It’s about the same, except it’s a little heavier to carry,” Edwards said. He saw the costumes in a video on the Internet and thought it would be fun to try at Bloomsday.

The mood among the people at the back of the crowd was often patient, sometimes quiet but always happy. While passing bands, members of the lilac section clapped along, and applauded at the ends of songs. They encouraged each other on the climb up Doomsday Hill, and took the time to talk and laugh along the way.

Some sat on the sidelines for a while, eating ice cream sandwiches, and children darted in between walking adults, interested in their own races.

Samantha Scott, 20, joined Nicholas Brozik and Jaden Soto, both 10, in wearing red-and-white striped shirts that stood out brightly in the crowd.

“People have been talking to us all day,” Scott said. “We mostly wore these so our parents could see us on TV.”

Wearing neon green T-shirts and holding balloons of the same color, the Swanson family sent four generations through the 7 ½-mile hike.

Headed by great-grandmother Margaret Swanson, two daughters, four grandchildren and one great-grandson, all went through the race together. And at the finish line, it was 84-year-old Swanson who was waiting for the young ones to cross.

“This year we decided to all rally around grandma,” said Erin Greene, Margaret’s granddaughter.

But costume or no, everyone seeks the same goal: a walk across the finish line.

“I’ll be doing the same thing next year,” Amstadter said, not even looking at the race timer as he crossed the finish with his three furry companions. “It was a great race.”


Click here to comment on this story »