La Cañada Turkey Trot draws in 1,400 entrants, some in costume

La Cañada Turkey Trot draws in 1,400 entrants, some in costume
Some of the 1400 participants in the 20th annual Thanksgiving Day run sponsored by the Community Center turned out in costume. (Sara Cardine)

The forecast promised rain on Thanksgiving, but luckily for La Cañada residents that promise and the clouds that came with it were broken Thursday morning as the sun shone down on Memorial Park for the 20th Annual Thanksgiving Day Run and Food Drive, sponsored by the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge.

PHOTOS: 20th Annual Thanksgiving day run and food drive

More than 1,400 runners took part in the 5K Turkey Trot, a timed race open to children and adults. The first to cross the finish line received free pumpkin pies, and top runners received trophies.

La Cañada father Mark Graham brought his family, along with relatives from San Diego and San Ramon, for a pre-Thanksgiving tradition several years strong. To make things festive, one of his sisters bought turkey hats. Some were cartoon turkeys with googly eyes, while others resembled cooked turkeys, legs trussed and capped by frills.

"We're Team Live Turkey," said Graham's 12-year-old son Derek, pointing to his cousin Taylor, 12, who wore a cooked bird hat. "They're Team Dead Turkey."

Both Derek and Taylor offered arguments for why his or her team would win.

"We can actually run because we have legs," said Derek.

"I don't need legs — I'm already going to kick his butt," Taylor said with a smile.

The first runner to cross the finish line was Arcadia resident Phillip Gonzalez, 36, who's tried the past seven years for a win. In 2010 and 2011, he came in second and so decided to become a vegetarian to help improve his athleticism. But after placing third last year, Gonzalez stepped up his game.

"I gave up alcohol and went vegan to win this race," he said, panting after an impressive 15-minute time, his arm around a hard-fought trophy.

La Cañada resident Cecily Lew, 25, was the first woman across the finish line, clocking in just over the 18-minute mark. Her first Turkey Trot was in 2008, when she was visiting her boyfriend's family. Now they're married and she lives in town.

After the 5K, hundreds of runners-in-training lined up to test their mettle in a 1-kilometer Kiddie Fun Run. Guided and encouraged by parents, they crossed the finish line and earned commemorative medals.

When the races were done, families cooled off on Memorial Park's lawn, drinking water and taking photos. A pick-up truck from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station was loaded up with donated food items brought by participants.

Every bit will go to more than 150 needy families living in the community throughout the holidays, according to Community Center Executive Director Deb Jordan. Call it just one of the many ways La Cañadans give thanks by giving back.