Signups for holiday run urged

People who are looking forward to pre-burning some Thanksgiving Day calories are urged to sign up for the annual Thanksgiving morning run through town, according to a spokesperson for the sponsoring agency, the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge.

Although the annual run is entering its 18th year, Melissa Mills, the center’s assistant program director, said that registration for the event isn’t yet as stuffed as organizers hoped.

“We’re a little low, honestly. We’re hoping people will sign up the day of [the run],” said Mills. “Last year we had about 1,100 [participants], so I think we’re hoping to get at least that amount, maybe more, if we’re able.”

The run, a 5k starting in Memorial Park at 8:30 a.m., collects registration fees to fund community center programs and non-perishable food items for the Crescenta Valley Sheriff Station’s annual Holiday Food Drive.

Mills said that the low registration so far might be because the event changed names from Run For the Hungry to the current Thanksgiving Day Run and Food Drive, so residents might not be making the right connections.

“I think sometimes the issue is people aren’t really aware that it’s the Community Center that hosts the run,” said Mills. “So we’re still trying to work on branding and getting people to understand that by supporting the run and coming out, they’re actually supporting the Community Center.”

The support is needed, Mills said, which is why she’s hoping that the event sees as many day-of registrants — more than 600 — as it did last year.

“The run is really important, it’s our biggest fundraiser of the year, usually; we depend it basically to keep on our doors open,” said Mills. “And I guess these families really depend on our food, on our donations, so that’s why we ask every runner to bring at least one can, if not more.”

Deputy Jorge Valdivia of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station said that the food donations are a big help for the Sheriff Station’s Food Drive, which they hope will be able to provide food for more than 150 families this year. Valdivia said that station personnel would be out for the event to ensure public safety.

Longtime participant Craig Levra, chief executive of Sport Chalet, said the Thanksgiving Day Run has been a tradition of his for a dozen years because it represents the spirit of the holiday.

“It’s for the right cause, so that’s the number one reason,” said Levra. “And on a day of Thanksgiving, we have to remember there’s always someone less fortunate, particularly in this economy.”

Levra said it was also important to remember the work that went into putting on the run.

“Well, people think it’s easy to organize something like this. It’s not easy,” said Levra. “They deserve credit and thanks from everybody in our city for year after year pulling everything together.”

Mills would agree, as she said organizers are still looking for volunteers to join their team of around 60 for handling the event.

She said that participating or volunteering at the run might seem like too much effort on a day of feasting, but that it was more than worth it.

“You’re part of the community, you’re joining in on a tradition that’s been around for 18 years and it’s a fun way to just support the Community Center, as well as get some exercise on pretty much the most gluttonous day of the year,” said Mills.

For more information or to register, visit or call (818) 790-4353.

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