For senior Eric Rosenfield, it’s all about the strut.
Hours of preparation, picture-taking and parading boiled down to a few minutes of pride as he and more than 100 men ran down 17th Street in Dupont Circle for the 25th annual High Heel Race Tuesday night.
“There’s too many people to actually know where you place; it wouldn’t matter to me anyway. It’s more about strutting for me. Some people actually sprint, I could never do that,” Rosenfield said.
Playboy bunnies, cheerleaders, Barbies and even superheroes attracted 15,000 people together for the drag event.
Some men prepare days, weeks and months in advance for the Tuesday night before Halloween in which they have the opportunity to publicly parade in high heels and skirts.
Hours before the race, Rosenfield’s apartment was scattered with makeup, wigs and stilettos in preparation for his high-heel run.
While Rosenfield is a three-year veteran of the High Heel Race, Tuesday night was only the second time his friend Chad Latawiec participated.
“I was definitely nervous my first year because I wasn’t sure how people would view us, but everyone was very supportive,” said Latawiec, a senior.
Latawiec prepared his costume Sunday night and was primped by his friends before Tuesday’s event.
“I love that it’s once a year and I get to dress up in whatever I want and walk around and I have lots of support from everyone,” Latawiec said while getting his makeup done. “They complained sophomore year that we didn’t shave our legs so I made a point to shave them this year.”
Rosenfield described the atmosphere at the annual event as positive.
“The whole community comes together to have a good time, there’s no judgment, it’s very liberating,” he said. “All the policemen and women are so supportive, and walking around and being the center of attention is really great for a night. I’m not usually like that.”
In Dupont, people began to gather along the sidewalks of 17th Street around 6:30 p.m. to watch the beauty queens strut around and take pictures before the actual race began. Lt. Daniel Ewell from the Metropolitan Police Department described the crowd as orderly and respectful. As his second time covering the event, he noted the growing crowd and community interest in the race.
Spectators said that they love to see the costumes and take pictures with the drag queens.
“We began coming six or seven years ago, now it’s like a Halloween tradition for my daughters and I,” Ann Lessard, a resident of Dupont Circle, said as she waited for the race to begin.
An overwhelming excitement took over 17th street at 9 p.m. when the race finally began, with spectators cheering at the top of their lungs. Rosenfield and his friends began strutting toward the finish line, as others ran as fast as their heels let them.