A little rain almost ruined a Spokane Thanksgiving tradition.
Thankfully, the clouds parted and the drizzle subsided just as runners, joggers and walkers made their way to Manito Park on the South Hill for the annual Turkey Trot, organized by the Bloomsday Runners Club. It’s the largest fundraiser for Second Harvest food bank, and features cash and food donations before taking to the course that snakes throughout the popular park.
While last year featured a record-breaking turnout thanks to uncharacteristically warm weather that hovered above 50 degrees, about 2,000 people braved a chilly 35 degrees as they gathered before the race Thursday morning. While many wore stocking caps, coats and jogging pants, others came dressed head-to-toe in costumes, including a group of men dressed as pilgrims, and a man dressed as a Tyrannosaurus rex.
Laura Lok and her friend Ellen Bunke, both members of the Flying Irish Running Club, came adorned in brown tutus with matching brown gloves. On their heads sat fashionable holiday hats made to look like turkeys.
“Why the outfits?” Lok said as she paused to look down. “Because, you know, life is fun. You gotta dress fun.”
“Yeah,” Bunke added. “Life’s too short not to have fun.”
Greeting the scores of runners was Curt Kinghorn standing on top of a table near Mirror Pond, where the race was set to begin and a large Second Harvest truck was parked to take food donations. Each time Kinghorn raised the microphone, he’d blast out a joke or two while encouraging people to donate money and food.
“The race starts, but is not limited to, 32 minutes,” he said. “If you have questions, ask someone else.”
In addition to Kinghorn’s voice echoing throughout the park, there were also the voices of John Denver and Pete Townshend singing about country roads and teenage wastelands along with Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” When she’d ready an “OH!” in the chorus, people would belt out one of their own, only a little more turkey-like.
By 9 a.m., the park had filled up, just as the sun started to peek out. All the while, people continued to drop off bags of food.
Turkey Trot regulars Sara Miller and her mother, Kristen Miller, who have been coming for the past three years, donated several cans. They were standing near an opening by the pond trying to keep warm before the race. At Sara’s feet was her 13-year-old Jack Russell terrier Ajax wrapped in a warm red sweater.
“This is his third year too,” said Sara Miller. “We all like to walk.”
Volunteers standing by the food truck were hopeful they’d be able to fill eight large pallet-sized boxes with food, as they’ve done most years.
Julie Chase, an enthusiastic 64-year-old covered head to toe in Denver Broncos clothing and who’s volunteered every Thanksgiving morning for about seven years, said she and her husband fell in love with helping the food bank back when she used to work for it. Since she left she often volunteers when she can.
Her favorite, however, is working Turkey Trot.
“We just love being a part of it,” she said. “The giving. The energy.”
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