The Color Run, an unusual event that involved splattering about 7,000 runners with colored corn starch in downtown Lawrence last fall, is making a return.
This time, Lawrence City Hall leaders are suggesting that green be a prominent color.
City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider requiring organizers of the popular run to make a $20,000 deposit with the city to ensure that streets are properly cleaned after the event and that volunteers are on hand during the race to help control traffic at intersections. The deposit would be refunded, unless there was a problem with cleanup or other matters during the race.
"It could have gone a little better last year," City Clerk Jonathan Douglass said of the 2012 cleanup efforts. "It wasn't terrible, but we're trying to figure out a way to improve the process."
Organizers hope to hold this year's event on Sept. 14, with the run beginning and ending near Watson Park. The route will include Tennessee, Kentucky and 18th streets. Those streets will be closed on race day from about 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., when cleanup is expected to be completed.
Organizers say they expect about 7,000 or more runners this year, Douglass said. Attempts to reach representatives with The Color Run weren't successful Friday.
The concept — runners wear white at the beginning of the race and periodically get sprayed with a color compound — has taken off nationally. According to the group's website, the races have exploded in popularity since their debut in 2012. The group plans to host 100 events across the world in 2013, attracting more than 1 million participants.
City commissioners said there is no doubt the event brings people to downtown.
"I can attest there were a whole lot of people downtown at the beginning of that event," said City Commissioner Mike Amyx, who owns a downtown barbershop. "That's good. It shows off downtown."
But commissioners said they also want to make sure the city doesn't unnecessarily subsidize the run.
"I don't have any problems with requiring the deposit at all," Amyx said. "If you have police officers down there and the street department cleaning up, we have to do what we have to do to get the town back in order after these events. That costs some money."
The $20,000 deposit is a first for the city for this type of event. Douglass said the main factor is that the event is so much larger than most of the other races held downtown. Most are a few hundred runners, and the largest is usually about half the size of The Color Run.
Douglass said he's in the process of compiling a report on how much the city spent in supporting The Color Run last year. He said the city hopes that the event will attract more volunteers, which will reduce the number of police officers who have to stand at intersections to provide basic traffic control during the event.
Another unusual aspect of The Color Run, city officials said, is that the event is promoted as a for-profit enterprise. The group makes a donation to a local charity, in this case Van Go Mobile Arts, but the event is organized as a for-profit venture, Douglass said.
City officials on Tuesday also will consider approving another unique downtown run. The organization KC Running is seeking a permit to host the Glow Run 5K, which is run at night, on Oct. 12.
Organizers expect up to 3,000 participants running with glow sticks and lighted clothing. The event, whose organizers will make a donation to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, is set to begin at about 8 p.m. Runners will travel through the heart of Massachusetts, Seventh, New Jersey, 11th, 15th and various other East Lawrence streets. The route also includes about a half-dozen "glow zones" that will be equipped with black lights and disc jockeys to entertain runners while they race.
Race officials anticipate the streets only will need to be closed when the large pack of runners travels through. Massachusetts Street through South Park, however, will be closed from about 2 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. for a variety of after-race events.
City officials in the past have been concerned about shutting down parts of Massachusetts Street, but City Commissioner Bob Schumm said other events have shown a shutdown can work, as long as it is limited to the area near South Park.
"If you close parts of Massachusetts Street between the Courthouse and City Hall, then you start locking up parking and hurting merchants," said Schumm, who is a downtown restaurant owner. "But in general, these events are good. Sometimes they provide a boost to business and sometimes they don't. But they bring people downtown, and that is what we want."