Photo Finish

Photo by Danielle Croce.

The Family of New Paltz held their 12th annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5K race on Thursday, Nov. 26, where many residents gathered to run the open roads of New Paltz only to reward themselves with mass quantities of food later on.

After paying the registration fee, ranging from $15 to $25, over 700 people gathered at the four-way intersection on Water Street and Plains Road, with the proceeds going to “Family,” a crisis intervention center located in the heart of New Paltz since 1975.

Family provides a myriad of needed services, including a 24-hour hotline, counseling, support groups, shelters and a food pantry. The food pantry served more than 1,000 families last year.

Town Councilman Dan Torres attended the event, which he thought was unique due to the turnout. He also saw a reunion of friends from the past.

“It’s always a great event because we live in a small community,” Torres said. “It’s exciting to see the town come out right before Thanksgiving. For me, it’s always interesting because a lot of people I went to high school with moved out of the area and I generally see a lot of them at the event.”

The winners of the timed New Paltz five-kilometer run were Alfredo Mazzuca, who won for the second time with an impressive finish of 00:16:16 for the male division, and Leigh Gerson, who finished with a time of 00:18:08 for the female division.

Mazzuca, who ran for the 20 to 24 age group, felt that the event was a symbol of the strength and cohesiveness of New Paltz rather than a competition.

“The event is a great opportunity to meet up with local friends and make new connections,” Mazzuca said. “It’s also a good time to shave off the calories for the impending Thanksgiving meal.”

Mazzuca said that it was great winning the event and he hopes to “spark interest in the running community” as each year passes by.

Kevin Borden, a member of the Board of Directors for the Huguenot Street Cooperative Nursery School, also participated in this year’s run for the 40 to 44 age group.

Borden said that working with the helpful community groups really motivated him to do more than just run in this year’s Turkey Trot.

“The event means a lot to me on a personal level,” Borden said. “I have been blessed over the years to work with a number of community groups that work in low and moderate income communities. So, ensuring that we all come together to support excellent organizations like Family of New Paltz is extremely important to me.”

Borden plans to run this event for many years to come, in hopes to one day run with his two sons, Cormac, 3, and Finn, 5.

The run also featured a heartwarming finish for the community to remember, one that sent many home to their friends and families with a story to share at the dinner table.

When runner Bridget Dannemann was approaching the finish line, she saw a series of signs from her boyfriend Rob Couch and some of his family members. One family member was holding a sign that said “Will You,” while another held one that said “Marry,” only to be welcomed to Couch holding the sign that said “Me?” The crowd blew up in applause after hearing Dannemann say “yes.”

“It was definitely a new one,” Torres said. “It happened right in front of me, and seeing the man [Couch] holding the sign that said ‘Me?’ as she [Dannemann] crossed the finish line was a heartwarming experience.”

With the Family of New Paltz receiving the donations from the committed, hard-working citizens of New Paltz and Dannemann and Couch happily engaged, it can be assured that everyone had a Thanksgiving to remember.