Hundreds attend Devola Turkey Trot

Runners and walkers take off after the sounding horn starts at the Devola Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

DEVOLA — The rising sun glittered on frost-coated fields and the cold waters of the Muskingum River slid sluggishly past as hundreds of people gathered at the recreation complex in Devola, shivering, stamping and laughing.

Dogs barked at one another, and sometimes nothing at all, while runners and walkers signed up for the second annual Devola Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. At 8 a.m. when registration started, the temperature was 21 degrees, and participants were swathed in layers of warm clothing and a variety of Thanksgiving themed outfits, including turkey hats depicting both live and cooked birds.

The 5K walk-and-run event was organized by the East Muskingum Civic Association as a fundraiser to help support its activities, which include operation of the community swimming pool and the playing fields complex on River Road in Devola, where the race was held. Registration fees were $10 per individual or $15 for a family.

“We really try to make it a family event,” association president Jennifer Schenkel said as she took down registration information and accepted fees from a line of people at a table by the parking lot. “We are a nonprofit and rely solely on membership fees and events like this.”

Andrea Sites, 40, and her children Cassie, 8, and Will, 11, of Marietta, arrived with their three dogs, and Cassie immediately tested the surface of a frozen puddle.

Jennifer Schenkel, right, takes registration information from participants in the second annual Devola Turkey Trot. Schenkel led event organization for the East Muskingum Civic Association. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

“It’s a fun family activity to start Thanksgiving day, just to get out with the community,” Andrea said.

B.J. Allen, 45, who lives in the rural area near Beverly, and Kylee Close, 24, of Whipple, talked in the parking lot as Close’s dog, Peppy, barked from within the cover of a coat.

“It’s a good way to burn a few calories before we eat,” Allen said.

Teresa Tocodi-Domico, 27, was at the event with her family from Devola.

“We’ve always been an active family, we’ll all be together all day, and this was something we could do together,” she said as her three dogs strained at their leashes.

Scott Dennis, 40, of Marietta, accompanied by Abram Zyla-Dennis, 8, came from Marietta to do the run.

“I did it last year, and before that I’ve done a turkey trot for at least 10 years,” he said. “It’s a good excuse to eat more pie if you run in the morning.”

Anne Keegan came out with her daughter, Jenny Bird, 33, and two granddaughters, Catherine, 3, and Keegan, 1. Both sported sweatshirts bearing the legend, “I run for grandma’s cheesy taters,” on the front and Wesel Nation on the back. Anne Keegan said was a tribute to the family matriarch and her favorite recipe. Numerous shirts with the Wesel family name could be seen among the runners signing up.

Keegan, who is from Marietta, said she’s been going to turkey trot events for at least 15 years. Her daughter, while standing for a photo of the shirt, said she and her children are from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

Like many others at the Devola event, Keegan used to go to the Parkersburg Turkey Trot but welcomed the advent of the Devola trot last year, which is closer to home and less crowded, she said.

As registration wound up, Schenkel said it looked like about 350 people had come out for the event. As for the cold, she said, “The people who want to do this won’t care.”

She gave credit to the event’s volunteers and sponsors, saying, “That’s the spirit out here in Devola.”