PARKERSBURG - For hundreds, maybe thousands, of Mid-Ohio Valley residents, the longtime traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner is preceded by the traditional Turkey Trot at City Park.
"It's grown every year," event organizer Joe Corra said of the 35th annual Turkey Trot which will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday in City Park.
"People just do it as a Thanksgiving tradition now," Corra said, adding that whole families and even whole sports teams sign up to run the three-mile event together.
Belpre native and Shawnee State University student Breydon Gates was the winner of last year’s Turkey Trot in City Park, with a time of 15 minutes, 4 seconds.
As of Tuesday, nearly 2,700 people had signed up for the Thanksgiving morning event, Corra said, and he expected to see a few hundred more today and Thursday morning prior to the event. Corra believes there is a strong chance - despite potential cold and wet weather - that the number of participants will pass last year's record of 2,998 people.
In the eight years he has been involved, Corra said the amount of growth in participation has never been less than 15 percent annually, so he expects to see the 3,000-mark surpassed this year.
The three-mile run/walk is sponsored by the River City Runners and Walkers Club, On the Run and Walk and Camden Clark Medical Center.
During the event, Grace Brethren Church in south Parkersburg will be serving coffee and hot chocolate, Corra said, while FaithLink will be collecting shoes and the Humane Society of Parkersburg will have dogs available for adoption present at the event.
The entry fee is $15 a person. Registration continues today from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at On The Run and Walk, 2903 Emerson Ave., Parkersburg, or Thursday at the City Park Pavilion from 7:30-8:45 a.m.
Dressed turkeys will be awarded to the first male and female to cross the finish line. After the race, a drawing will be held for 50 free turkeys and prizes and winners must be present to win, organizers said.
The race begins and ends on the track between the City Park Pond and the baseball field and includes a loop up Washington Avenue and back for a total course length of three miles.
The Turkey Trot was started in 1979 by the same group that two years later was the founding members of the River City Runners Club.
While most of the runners wear traditional clothing, for the past several years the race also has attracted a few who, in addition to running, arrive for the race in costume. Last year's event also saw a marriage proposal at the finish line.