The holiday season has begun.
It's time for gifts, family meals and good cheer. Traditions abound, and there is one Thanksgiving tradition that is 2,000 people strong - the annual Warren Kiwanis Club Turkey Trot.
This Thanksgiving marked the 34th year for the largest race in the county, which featured a 2-mile run / walk and a 5-mile run starting at Kent Trumbull Campus and working through Champion.
Page One photos / Allie Vugrincic
David Supert and Matt Knepper from Champion’s Robotics Team set out water for the runners before the race.
According to Harding Key Club member Jaylynn Scott, who was working as a volunteer registering runners, there were 2,222 preregistered runners, with more runners registering Thanksgiving morning. Students from local schools were among those runners.
Hannah Fredrick of Niles McKinley High School ran both the 2- and 5-mile races.
"It has become a tradition," Fredrick said. "It's not Thanksgiving without it."
Fredrick has been running the Trot since 2009, when she started participating in cross country.
"I loved running so much that my coach told me about the race," Fredrick said.
Niles McKinley's Gabby Chaffin also ran both races.
"I love running in big races like that. And I also run it so I can eat as much as I want later," said Chaffin, who is a three-year veteran of the Turkey Trot. Chaffin placed third woman overall in the 2-mile race.
JFK's Allison Mintus ran this year for the second time.
"I do it so I don't feel guilty about eating later," Mintus said.
Melissa Kovach, a senior from Champion, joined her.
"Well she (Mintus) kind of made me. I couldn't let her run alone," Kovach said.
The race is not only a tradition for the runners, but also the volunteers who give their time to prepare for the big event. Meredith Brugler and Ariana Shannon, sophomores from Harding, were working the race for the second year in a row. Both hope to help again next year with Harding's Key Club.
Champion High School's Robotics Team and John F. Kennedy's National Honor Society also helped with race preparations.
Organizing such a large race was no easy feat.
At 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving, Jan Vaughn, president of the Warren Kiwanis Club, was busy at work getting ready for the race. The 2-mile race started at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, followed by the 5-mile at 10.
"It's a big production, and we have a lot of corporate sponsors," she said. Among the items donated by sponsors were 1,700 bananas and 1,700 cups of water, and distribution was handled by volunteers.
"It's for a good cause," said JFK National Honor Society member Kayla Powell when asked why she wanted to help.
According to Vaughn, the race raises money to give back to the community in the form of grants distributed by the Kiwanis Club.
This year participants had something extra to be thankful for - the weather. "We are so fortunate that the weather is nice this year," Vaughn said. "We've had everything from pounding rain to drizzling sleet and snow in the past."
For race results, see www.gopherarun.com.