ROME, ITALY (CBS) -- More than 300 cyclists gathered in Rome on Sunday (December 16) dressed up in Father Christmas costumes to raise money for children's charities and to make a Guinness World Record attempt.
Word spread quickly through the cycling community on social media, and hundreds gathered in Rome's Circus Maximus before setting off on their route around the city's famous landmarks.
"This demonstration taking place close to Christmas is our idea to collect funds for Peter Pan/Onus (children cancer charities). All riding bicycles dressed up as Father Christmas we want to give some joy and to raise people's awareness about using bicycles in Rome," said dedicated cyclist Claudio Vetorella.
Many people decided to join in and help raise funds for charities dedicated to helping sick children. And the balmy weather certainly ensured a good turnout.
"Obviously it's a way to enjoy ourselves with our friends, to celebrate Christmas and also to raise funds for Bambino Gesu (Children's Hospital)," said a smiling Vanessa Buzancha.
Christmas shoppers with their children enjoyed the riding spectacle as they watched the group riding around Piazza Venezia, past the huge Christmas Tree and the Spanish Steps.
"We want to give a message to the whole city that riding bicycles is possible, and sustainable for everyone, both the cyclists and the car drivers if they have more of a sense of civic duty," said fellow cyclist Mariana Rossi.
The Italian capital, famous for regular traffic congestion and extraordinarily good weather, has massive air pollution problems. Although city officials continuously work on programs for more sustainable transportation, including electric buses and car and bike sharing schemes, austerity measures have hit efforts to improve environmentally-friendly systems.
Riding up the main street towards the Vatican where crowds had gathered to celebrate the Angelus with Pope Benedict the Santa cyclists weren't sure if they'd managed a new World Record or not, but they were having a great time in any case and wanted to share their good spirits with everyone by wishing everyone 'A very Happy Christmas!'