Each year, parkruns around the world celebrate one ‘special day’, where they can hold an additional parkrun outside of the usual Saturday morning.
The United States are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, and with it their special parkrunday. Join us as we take a look at the tradition.
For much of United States history, “thanksgiving days” were not official holidays. Various states and regions celebrated days of giving thanks on different days for various reasons. There was no official Thanksgiving Day Holiday until 1863. In the height of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of every November to help heal the divided nation and comfort the many who lost someone in the war.
Fall holiday traditions followed to present. Along with roast turkey, cranberry relish, pumpkin pie and football, Thanksgiving morning runs, often called “Turkey Trots” have sprung up all over the country.
It’s a fantastic opportunity that make it even more accessible with parkrun events opting to hold a special day on this holiday too. Many other countries have a special extra day on Christmas Day, and in Canada on July 1, there is an extra event for Canada Day.
Here in the US we’re excited to have it on Thanksgiving Day.
The tradition goes back to 2013, when Clermont Waterfront held an annual Thanksgiving Day parkrun. They were the sole event on that day and it’s only since 2017 that they were joined by a second, and this year, at the time of writing, there are 16 are signed up to host in 2021!
A turkey turnaround marker!?
At Clermont Waterfront parkrun participants have had time to perfect their Thanksgiving Day routine. We hear that the shrewdest time savers schedule their turkey in the oven before they head out to celebrate the holiday and express gratitude with their parkrun community.
Clermont Waterfront parkrun is only about 25 miles from Disney World which means they sometimes get international parkrun tourists who don’t know much about the holiday. Jamaica Pond Event Director, Chrissie Connor, also shared the sentiment “it’s a really great way for international tourists to join in with this special day in our culture in a way that they otherwise couldn’t. It’s a nice experience for tourists as any holiday parkrun but just a little more festive!”
Eagan parkrun, Minnesota, was the second to join in on the parkrun fun. It opted in to host a Thanksgiving event every year since 2017, except for 2020 of course, and they get 40-60 participants. Eagan participants can’t visit their usual coffee shop as it’s closed for the holiday. They move their post-parkrun Thanksgiving get together to a local bar and grille and enjoy some football and camaraderie before heading home.
The Eagan RD that day!
The event uses the time to be thankful for the open space, use of the land, and the parkrun community. It’s also an opportunity for first-timers visiting family to come try a parkrun. Conversely, holidays can be lonely for some without opportunity to connect. Any time of year, but especially holidays, parkrun offers a friendly place to connect and celebrate.
Each of the extra special days that happen on different parkrun days in countries around the world have a unique feel to them. Thanksgiving Day is no different as Chrissie from Jamaica Pond explained “there is definitely something special to the day. What we enjoyed in 2018 and 2019 was that many people get to enjoy a ‘double community day’. People come to meet their parkrun family, before heading off to spend the day with their other families!”
Indeed, some come along to support and join in the parkrun when they otherwise wouldn’t. “We get some parents and siblings coming to join their families when they don’t normally take part in walking and running events” Chrissie mentioned. “For some it’s a one and done and we’ll see them next year, for others the spirit is with them and we’ll see them stick around to become regulars!”
Jamaica Pond parkrunners on Thanksgiving Day 2019
“It’s so worth it” Chrissie said as she recollected that in 2018 despite it being so cold, it was great to see so many new and familiar faces in the normally Saturday morning slot.
Whether you’re at a parkrun this November 25 or not, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving!
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