Turkey Trot Festival marks beginning of annual tradition

Boys and Girls Club “Stick Patrol” Drum Line performed at the Turkey Trot festival. Photo by Mariah Wiggs

Live music and the chatter of excitement filled the air last Sunday as the countdown to the annual Turkey Trot  began.

The Turkey Trot Festival took place at Goodwood Museum and Gardens. Although extensive construction at Cascades Park called for a change in location, that didn’t stop participants and families from gathering for the yearly tradition. 

David Yon, co-race director for the Tallahassee Turkey Trot, made sure that “family” was the word of the day for the event.

“I think what’s most special about our race and festival is the way families participate,” Yon said. “It’s become more and more of a community event.”

The Turkey Trot is an  annual 10K run that takes place every Thanksgiving Day.  The festival is a kick-start to the week for runners to preregister and donate to the community through local charities and youth organizations while enjoying live performances and programs.

Yon’s co-conductor is his wife Mary Jean Yon. She too takes great pride in knowing that she can contribute to the community by enabling others to do the same through volunteering.

“When we first started this, I don’t think we really understood how big of a community impact this was going to be,” confessed Mary Yon.  “Now when you look and see that we’ve grown to all of these different charities and causes and being able to help, it makes you feel good as a person.”

Help goes beyond the director’s chair, it takes months of preparation and dedication from volunteers, charities, local businesses and runners alike.

Runners and volunteers work tirelessly to create a strong lasting foundation for the marathon to be successful every year.

Becoming a volunteer is as simple as signing up online or attending the race and handing out waters or snacks to runners.  The age range of volunteers and participants is wide and growing steadily. 

Charlie Johnson, a 10-year volunteer emphasized the pull towards youth through the event to get them involved in a good cause.  The festival he says is the perfect place to start.

“It’s all about the youth and it’s more than just running,” said Johnson. “It’s an open community where it’s about family and helping people make healthy life choices and giving kids an outlet for releasing some energy and finding a social group to be with that gives a lot of good guidance in life.”

A number of youth from the local Boys and Girls Club contribute in their own way at the Turkey Trot and gave a special live performance at the festival.  

Stick Patrol, a Boys and Girls Club drum line composed of students from elementary to high school, have taken advantage of the festival and its partnership with the Turkey Trot since 2008 to raise more awareness in the community about their group.

Club Director Nadeje Pierre was eager to share the love and support the club receives from the marathon.

“Turkey Trot is a huge supporter of the Boys and Girls Club and every year through the event and what they collect we get a donation,” explained Pierre.  “It gives us an outlet to reach out to more people and let them know that we’re here.”

The Festival continues to be the starting line to a great run and overall season of giving for the community. 

The Turkey Trot will take place in Southwood on Thanksgiving morning at 8 a.m.  

To register for a race or for more information, visit Tallyturkeytrot.com.