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Families bring back Turkey Trot traditions in Carlisle | Carlisle

The Carlisle Family YMCA held its annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day in Carlisle. Hundreds of runners and walkers participated in the 5K run/walk.

Jason Malmont

Streets were closed on the southwest end of Carlisle on Thanksgiving morning. The theme song from the Rocky movies played after a crowd lining South West Street danced to “YMCA.” People wandered about wearing turkey hats or costumes.

The Carlisle Family YMCA Turkey Trot was back after going virtual last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Carlisle resident Gordon Miller’s family, that meant going big since they weren’t at home.

The family has made it a tradition to participate in the turkey trot when they descend on Miller’s home from places like Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina and other parts of Pennsylvania, said Miller’s sister, Donna Rostant.

“We felt like since we didn’t have it last year we wanted to come back and do something really special,” she said.

So the family worked together to build Thanksgiving dinner costumes made out of pool noodles, insulation tubes, felt, yarn and styrofoam to wear to the event. One was dressed as a bag of Ocean Spray cranberries, another as green bean casserole, a couple of others as pies along with other get-ups representing the traditional feast.

“We missed each other last year, but we wanted to be safe and be respectful of others. We’re grateful that everybody’s vaccinated and came back together,” Rostant said.

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Linda Hemminger, an employee at the YMCA for 25 years, was excited to be back at the event for the third year with her sister, children and grandchildren. She said she loves the energy of the event, but as a fitness instructor, she also knows it’s key for the community to do healthy activities like the Turkey Trot.

“Our community is coming in together. It’s huge. It’s bringing vitality back to our community,” she said.

As is usual with the turkey trot, the fun isn’t limited to the people running or walking the route. Residents who live along the route come out to watch what amounts to a parade going by their homes, waving or ringing cowbells to cheer them on.

Steve Brousse and his family take it a step further from their spot near the one-mile mark. This year, they added an inflatable slide and balloons to the hot chocolate and warm fire they usually offer runners passing by.

Brousse said the tradition started with him and his father watching the runners go by when he moved in about 10 years ago.

“We have grown since. Who knows what next year will bring?” he said.

Brousse starts a fire in a fire pit on the driveway around 7 a.m. Then gets busy making gallons of hot chocolate so that it’s ready between 8 and 8:30 a.m. so families can stop for a cup along the route. Some years, when it’s cold, the hot chocolate runs out quick.

“It’s great to be back,” he said. “It’s nice to see friends I haven’t seen for awhile run by.”

Race director Jay Cattron said there were about 2,230 people registered for this year’s race.

“What a great turnout for our 20th anniversary race,” he said. “We are truly humbled by the continuing support our community has shown us over the years and thankful they choose to make us part of their Thanksgiving Day traditions.”

Part of that tradition, too, are the people who make the race possible. In addition to the participants who come out to support the YMCA, Cattron thanked title sponsor Penn State Health and all event sponsors as well as the Carlisle Police Department, Carlisle Special Fire Police, Motion Timing, the disc jockey who keeps the crowd going with music, the YMCA staff and the more than 100 volunteers it takes to pull off the event.

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