New Paltz Turkey Trot offers an energetic start to the holiday

Ann Sheldon, Emily Davis and Paul Davis at the Turkey Trot in New Paltz on Thanksgiving morning 2012. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Food and family are synonymous with Thanksgiving. And in these parts, so are food and Family of New Paltz, who will sponsor their 15th annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22 in New Paltz. All proceeds benefit the organization’s food pantry and other crisis intervention programs. Same-day registration begins at 8 a.m. at Water Street Market, where the crowd gathers for the 5K run/walk. It’s a festive atmosphere, usually accompanied by live music, but the group that has often filled the bill is not available this year, so organizers (as of press time) are still looking for a group to entertain the more than 1,000 people expected. (According to Family’s program director, Ivan Echenique, last year’s Turkey Trot brought out 1,200 participants, with this year’s advance registrations on track to at least equal that.) Any family-friendly entertainers out there who would like to volunteer their time and gain a large and enthusiastic audience in the process may contact Ivan at (845) 255-7957.

The event kicks off with a free, half-mile Mashed Potato Fun Run on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail at 9 a.m. for ages 12 and under. There is no cost for kids to participate. No official results or finish times will be provided, but all finishers receive a prize.

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The 15th annual Family of New Paltz Turkey Trot begins at 9:30 a.m. The scenic five-kilometer (3.1 miles) course is certified by USA Track & Field (USATF). Runners are chip-timed, with photos of participants crossing the finish line available for upload at no additional cost.

An awards ceremony will be held at approximately 10:30 a.m. Local restaurateur and Family of New Paltz supporter Garvan McCloskey will present medals — handmade by local artists — to the first, second and third place finishers in each age group, divided by ten-year increments, with separate awards for males and females. Some of the regulars dress up in costumes to run or walk, and they will be eligible for the best costume prize. The winner of the 50/50 raffle will also be announced at that time. 

Tickets for the 50/50 raffle are available to purchase in advance at the Jewish Community Center on Monday, November 26 from noon to 6 p.m. and on Thanksgiving morning. Tickets cost $1 each or six for $5. The winner need not be present, and funds raised from the raffle will be donated to Family of New Paltz. 

Registration for the Turkey Trot on the day of the event costs $30 for runners ages 13 to 64 and $15 for ages 65 and up and youngsters 12 and under. Advance registration, which allows skipping the long lines to sign up on race day, may be done online through 5 p.m. on Tuesday, November 20 at www.newpaltzturkeytrot.com. The cost is $25 for runners ages 13 to 64 and $15 for ages 65 and up and 12 and under. In-person early registration is also available — along with race packet pickup for all early registrants — on Wednesday, November 21 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 30 North Chestnut Street. There is also a $3 discount per-person for groups of six or more runners who register by Monday, November 19. Call (845) 255-7957 for the group rate code.

Participants are encouraged to carpool and arrive as early as possible. Dogs are not allowed at the event.

This year’s Turkey Trot will be held in memory of Anne Ellman, a dedicated Family of New Paltz volunteer for many years who passed away on April 27 at the age of 95.

The annual event is sponsored by a great many local businesses and individuals, all named on the event website. The primary underwriters for the Turkey Trot include founding sponsors New Paltz Health & Nutrition Center and Kniffen Homes, and headline sponsors First Care Medical, Garvan’s Gastropub, New Paltz Community Foundation and Seakill Builders.

Family of New Paltz has been providing a myriad of services in the town since 1975, including a 24-hour crisis hotline, a new text-based hotline, food pantry, free clothing store, counseling, support groups and multiple shelters for adults, adolescents and victims of domestic violence. The food pantry served more than 1,000 local families in need last year. 

The race goes on rain or shine. Volunteers are needed to help out with early packet pickup on Wednesday, November 21 at the Jewish Community Center and on Thanksgiving morning at the event from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Tasks that morning include setup, registration, packet pickup, finish line assistance and cleanup. All volunteers receive a Turkey Trot t-shirt and refreshments. To sign up, call (845) 255-7957. For more information, visit www.newpaltzturkeytrot.com.

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