WATERTOWN — What has become a Thanksgiving tradition for many families in the community — with some traveling from across the country for the morning event — the Watertown Family YMCA’s Turkey Run returned in full force Thursday morning.
For its 38th year, over 600 people participated after the pandemic interrupted the event in 2020, with last year’s run held virtually. The Turkey Run raises money to support the Gateway Financial Assistance Program for families, but it also brings the community together for a bit of fun before a whole lot of food.
“We’re just really excited about being able to have this event in person,” said Shawna O. Cutuli, managing director of membership facilities for the YMCA. “I think it’s been a long time since we were able to get together as a community and we hope that people enjoy some physical activity before they go eat their turkey dinners.”
YMCA Turkey Run participants were off at 9 a.m. sharp from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Ives Street in Watertown. The 5K course started at the church with the same route as previous years. People could choose to run or walk the full 5K, or 2.2-mile course.
The results were announced inside the church at 10 a.m. Top overall female was Gabby Putman, 14, of Cicero, with 19 minutes and 37 seconds. Top overall male was Oscar Vazquez, 22, of Evans Mills, with 17 minutes and 42 seconds. Top racers from all categories are viewable at www.AuyerTiming.com.
Terry Curtis and his daughter Heidi have been running the event for the past seven or eight years. Joined by family members Corinna and Emma, they were all spread out with Heidi coming from Tampa, Terry coming from Baltimore, and Corinna and Emma coming from Boston. They came together Thursday morning before visiting family.
“We keep coming back each year because it’s fun, it’s a great time,” Mr. Curtis said. “As my daughter said last night, it might get you an extra piece of pie.” To which Heidi responded that she specified three — a piece for each mile.
Thursday morning’s event was sponsored by Victory Promotions, Community Broadcasters LLC, Bob Johnson Auto Group, Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown Savings Bank, Northern Nurse Practitioners, and RBC Wealth Management.
About 50 volunteers helped out with the big day, from a group of Fort Drum soldiers to missionaries from the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
Killian Gault, 9, was excited to run Thursday morning and didn’t care who knew it, proclaiming for all: “I’m gonna run!” Accompanied by his mom, Cara Mercer-Venable, they joined Elizabeth Rhone and her kids Audrey, 7, and Daphne, who turned 5 Thursday and was pushed alongside her 1-year-old brother Nathan instead of running.
Debby L. Schrecengast has participated in the event for the past five years and was joined for the first time by her son, Pierce, who came from Buffalo.
“I like the tradition, and it gets you out and gets you moving,” she said. “I’m slow; people just assume that it’s just for the fit, but it’s not — anybody can come out and do this.”