The third time was a charm for the third annual Blue Night Run, which was held for the first time without clouds to rain on the parade Friday night.


“I’m very pleased with the weather. This is the first time we haven’t had rain,” said LaLita Ashley, director of the Aiken Department of Public Safety’s Police Athletic League.


Ashley was also pleased with the turnout for Friday’s festivities – 184 participants in the 5K run and walk and 13 participants in the one-mile fun run.


The Blue Night Run began in 2012 and is the primary fundraiser for the Police Athletic League, which provides athletic and leadership opportunities for Aiken-area children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate. The league, which was established in 2006, first relied on grant money, but the grant eventually ran out.


There was no shortage of fun Friday night. A fire engine hoisted its ladder and hose high in the air to offer a refreshing shower to children and participants as they finished the race. There was also an awards ceremony, during which door prizes were also given out.


Some runners were feeling particularly festive, including Chelsea Maxwell of Evans, Georgia, who sported a blue tutu with handcuffs affixed to it. She ran the race with two other tutu-clad co-workers.


“The two girls said they run every race in a tutu,” she said, joking that it was an “intimidating factor.”


Wearing something slightly heavier than a tutu were Joe O’Conor and Kyle Quill, who are fire fighters for Aiken and Windsor, respectively. They ran the entire 5K with their fire fighting jacket, pants and hat.


“He was doing it by himself,” Quill said, pointing toward O’Conor. “I was like, I might as well do it with him. I’m not gonna let him do it by himself.”


Quill said the spectators and other runners were very supportive of them as they ran.


“They were super friendly,” he said. “They kept saying, ‘Keep it up, guys.’ It’s kind of cool to have the community around you, thanking you for what you do. It means a lot.”


Ashley said the turnout of people supporting the league means a lot to her and to the children who participate. It also means a lot to their parents, who were volunteering at Friday’s event.


“We started out trying to do a football team and decided, ‘Well, you have to do something for the girls,’” she said of the league coming to Aiken. “So, we did cheerleading. Then after football season was over, all the kids were like, ‘Well, what’s next?’”


Participation in the league is only growing, so Ashley said the Blue Night Run can be counted on for next year.


Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.