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The High-Heels Make a Run for It, Decked Out in Halloween Fabulous

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Drag queens and queens for a day sport their best pumps for the Halloween High Heel Race, an annual tradition in Dupont Circle.Video by Rebecca Davis/washingtonpost.comProduced by Gaby Bruna/washingtonpost.com

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They introduce themselves as Rose Petal, as Tabernacle Norma. "But all of our last names are Young," says Russ Goldberg.

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The high-heel race tradition began on Halloween night in 1986 when a couple of guys, kinda drunk and really fabulous, decided to race from JR.'s to Annie's Paramount Steak House a few blocks away, have a shot, race back. In perilously, astoundingly, wobbulous high heels.

The fellas that year chipped in to buy the winner a bottle of champers, a prize that has been upgraded through the years to the present: a $50 bar tab at JR.'s and a trophy, provided by Junk in the Trunk. (Do journalistic ethics require us to explain that Junk in the Trunk is a trash-removal service? They do.)

Now the race has been moved to the Tuesday before Halloween, the entrants number more than 100, and the route has been extended half a block -- as of this year -- to accommodate the crowds that JR.'s Dave Perruzza estimates have exceeded 20,000.

Last night, the winner of the race was Craig Williams, a first-time participant who sprinted to the finish in chunky-heeled Mary Janes, a pink wig and a silver unitard, crediting his soccer background for his admirable speed.

Other participants did not race so much as strut, prance, mug for the camera. For them, it's less about winning than showmanship.

For us, it's less about the race than it is about the tradition, the comfort and familiarity of seeing the year's newsmakers transformed into street theater, year after year.

Last night on 17th Street, viewers could watch the nine pink-ginghamed sisters pray for a man dressed as a member of the Wasilla PTA, until the PTA member retaliated by whomping them with her purse. They could watch one Michelle Obama gyrating on the pavement in front of a whooping crowd as a Todd Palin in stilettos paraded around with Vote for Sarah signs.

In a time of economic instability and political uncertainty, when everything can seem like a big mess, a little bit of fabulous somehow helps it all go away.


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