The “Ginger Run” returns as Newark’s newest holiday tradition

Staff Reporter

University students ditched the lines for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities at Deer Park Tavern, Grotto Pizza and Klondike Kate’s March 16. Instead, students were “shipping up to” Choate Street to experience the second-annual “Ginger Run.” 

The Ginger Run invited red-haired students, or “gingers,” to compete in a friendly footrace in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. A long-standing tradition at the University of Dayton, the Ginger Run gained attention on TikTok in 2023, leading many universities across the nation to adopt the idea.

While last year’s inaugural event rallied 15 participants, the ginger population was determined to return with an even stronger presence in its second year. According to sophomore Tom Campisi, a campus-wide group chat known as “UD Gingers” was used to recruit over 75 competitors. 

“We have a whole community now,” Campisi said. “We’ve all been talking to each other in the group chat everyday hyping this up. It’s been a great way to get to know people.” 

Although no winner was formally declared, Campisi, a first-time competitor, led the pack down Choate Street, decked in his best green bow tie and suspenders. 

“I’m a ginger, so I felt like I had to show out for my culture,” Campisi said.

Although the event was initially scheduled for 2 p.m., participants collectively decided to line up five minutes earlier due to the increasing police presence. 

In a statement to The Review, Lt. Andrew Rubin, a spokesman for the Newark Police Department, shared that extra officers were on site as a precaution due to the holiday. 

“Every year, the Newark Police Department prepares for St. Patrick’s Day by placing extra officers, in both uniform and plain clothes, in different areas of the City,” the statement read. “We prepare for the day to maintain order in the City during the anticipated increase in drunk and disorderly behavior due to St. Patrick’s Day.”

Due to the change in start time, many red-haired contenders arrived after Campisi had already crossed the finish line. Despite the tense circumstances, the group gingerly decided to try its luck at a second race, which included the rest of the hopeful participants. 

“It was very sudden,” sophomore chemical engineering major Rebecca Stutzman said. “We were all kind of thinking, ‘Are we gonna get in trouble? Should we leave?’ but we didn’t, and we got to run again, which was a lot of fun.”

During the ten-minute window between races, more participants arrived at the starting line, relieved to get a chance to run. While some greeted their fellow gingers with hugs and high fives, others took the extra time to warm up and stretch. 

Meanwhile, swarms of non-ginger students emerged from Main Street, searching for a spot to offer their support – and Lucky Charms – to their ginger friends.

“It felt like there was a lot more applause in the second race,” Stutzman said. “I even got Lucky Charms thrown at me, and I was able to see my friends on the sidelines this time. It was thrilling.”

Parties and gatherings on St. Patrick’s Day is a longstanding tradition at the university, dating back decades. File photo/THE REVIEW

For Stutzman, the run was the perfect way to get “more involved” in both St. Patrick’s Day and the ginger community. 

“I did not know there were that many gingers at UD, so it was very community-oriented in a way,” Stutzman said. 

Considering less than 2% of the world’s population has natural red hair, it is uncommon for so many redheads to gather in one place. That being said, St. Patrick’s Day is the day to celebrate Irish heritage, and with 10% of Ireland’s population sporting red hair, March 17 is often recognized as a day for redheads. 

Another participant, senior sport management major Mickey Rimbey, considered the Ginger Run his “send-off” before graduation. 

“It was a great environment today,” Rimbey said. “Just a bunch of redheads getting together. You don’t see that too often, and we were all here for the same purpose: to run and have some fun.”