The Saturday Live Fun Run replaced the carnival as a fundraiser for Billings schools for the second year in a row.
The Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools took some precautions because of COVID, with three different start times in Pioneer Park.
"About 220 runners, plus our virtual group," said Kelly McCandless, the foundation's executive director. "Students and parents. We see a lot of families out running today. Some kids running with their families cheering them on. We're bringing people together to raise money for our schools. That's why we're here. That's why the foundation exists. And so, still being able to celebrate and do something was really important to us and that's what the Fun Run is."
McCandless said COVID has been a concern for the planning of Saturday Live and the fun run.
"So at Saturday Live, we see thousands of people at a time, and even though we're outside, they're all close together," she said. "We can spread out as much as we possibly can and we'd still have congregating groups. So for us, it just made the most sense. We sleep well at night knowing we're protecting those kids."
While there is no carnival this year, the foundation has found other ways to raise money for school clubs and groups.
"We're working with them on different fundraising opportunities," McCandless said. "The SUV you see behind me, it's a 2021 Equinox courtesy of Denny Menholt. School groups sell those tickets for $10 apiece. They keep $6 of every ticket sold. That goes directly to them in cash that they can use for their programs. The other four bucks comes back to the foundation, which of course we just put right back into schools too. So they're able to recoup some of the funds that they would have raised during Saturday Live."
"It's a little disappointing, but it also is encouraging creativity, right? So we're finding all different cool ways to bring people together in a safer manner. And we will bring the carnival and the fundraising when the time is right and it's safe to bring those kids out and do so."
Saturday Live started in 1993.