Glitter, feathers and brightly colored wigs turned Dupont Circle into a sea of vibrancy Tuesday night as scores of men put on mascara to compete in the 17th annual High Heel Race.
Despite a light drizzle, thousands of people lined 17th Street between P and R streets to watch drag queens gallop down the street, cordoned off by Metropolitan Police officers for the occasion.
The race, which takes place every year on the Tuesday before Halloween, featured cowgirls, cheerleaders, a tastefully dressed Princess Diana and a Winnie the Pooh and Piglet duo that suggested S&M rather than harmless friendship.
After the race, which was won by a well-built 20-something clad in fishnet stockings, the streets filled with spectators who treated the queens like stars, asking them for autographs and pictures.
The race left most in good spirits, including two queens who came as Anna Nicole Smith and Peggy Lee, a famous singer.
“We shuffled along. It’s wet! It’s rained two years in a row now. We’ve been doing this for seven years,” said the man dressed as Anna Nicole Smith.
Hailing from D.C., both queens stood in the street after the race, sipping large martinis and talking to bystanders.
The man dressed as Smith brought along a dog resembling Smith’s dog, Sugarpie.
Participants who did not win the race said they enjoyed the atmosphere and event.
“I gave a good effort,” said a queen who called herself Whiskers. “It’s not as easy to run in heels as people would think, but it was a valiant run.”
Whiskers, standing resplendent in all his glory with friends after the race, wore a gray dress, a scarf and a hat over a purple wig.
Bars and restaurants were packed during and after the one-minute race, as people celebrated the race and its inherent message of freedom of expression.
As the night wound down, MPD started to break up the crowds. One squad car drove out with a drag queen dressed up as a police officer sitting on the back of the vehicle.
One person yelled, “It’s the last gay cop in D.C.!”
-Michael Barnett contributed to this report