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Meet the Niklawskis: The First Family of the CarMax Tacky Light Run

Just moments after 12:00pm on July 25th, right after the opening of the ‘Christmas in July’ registration block for the CarMax Tacky Light Run, Rainey Niklawski, her husband Kile, and their children Zack, 10, and Arielle, 11, were the first family to register for this year’s event on December 14. We caught up with Rainey to learn more about why her family makes this part of their annual holiday traditions. You can join them when registration opens again on October 1.

Sports Backers: You and your family were one of the first groups to register for the CarMax Tacky Light Run as soon as the Christmas in July block opened. What made you want to register so quickly for this year’s event?

Rainey Niklawski: Our family likes to be active and outdoors, and finding something so fun, family-friendly, festive AND active in December is just such an unusual treat. Usually you get everything except the active portion around the holidays.

SB: You’ve participated as a family several times before. What are your favorite things about the event, and what has kept you coming back each year?

RN: I’m a sucker for lots of lights, and Walton Park never disappoints. The neighborhood has embraced the event both with the decorating and spectating, and it’s just such a pleasure to be welcomed there. If you asked my kids, though, they’d probably say the cookies!

The Niklawski Family

SB: Do you typically dress up in festive holiday gear or any sort of tacky holiday outfits? Any special traditions you have for the run?

RN: We’ve been pretty slack-tastic as far as this goes, but I’m going to start planning earlier this year. I’m thinking battery-powered lights and “ugly” sweaters! We do love to wear the participant hats at the race, though!

SB: Tacky lights are always very popular in Richmond around the holidays. Does your family do anything else to enjoy them aside from the CarMax Tacky Light Run?

RN: We love to drive around and look at them every year!

SB: What would you say to other groups or families who are thinking about taking part in the CarMax Tacky Light Run?

RN: Do it! It’s such a fun way to spend an evening as a family outside, shaking off the holiday stress. It’s well organized and something fun and different.


The CarMax Tacky Light Run takes place on Saturday, December 14, starting at 6:00pm. Registration is currently open and event details are available at