Countless turkey hats, fowl costumes and a few Santas pressed toward the starting line on Thanksgiving day.

A section of Frederick's West 2nd Street swelled with thousands of participants for the return of Sheppard Pratt's Turkey Trot. Those who weren't gobbled up by the masses sprung forward in the 5K, while many walked or jogged at a slow clip until the crowd spread out.

More than 3,200 people signed up for the 1K fun run and 5k combined, of which 84 opted to run virtually, Sheppard Pratt event planner Megan Campbell said. Last year, the event was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"To see the comeback has been so awesome," Campbell said. "We want to keep tradition alive."

This year marked Sheppard Pratt's 19th annual turkey trot. Proceeds from the event will go directly to patient care, according to Campbell. The nonprofit provides mental health, special education, substance use, developmental disability and social services.

Scores of families, many of them dressed in themed attire, filled Baker Park as they waited for the races to begin. Upbeat music floated through the air, provoking some runners to warm up through dance. Others jogged and stretched. Youngsters scurried about, squealing with excitement.

The Albright family of Frederick braved the chilly weather with matching turkey T-shirts and hats. 

"We're starting a new family tradition," mom Jess said before the 1K fun run.

Rosy-cheeked Levi, 3, said he planned to run really fast. Afterward, Jess said they'd don matching Christmas pajamas and decorate their home while the turkey cooks. Seven-year-old Lila said her favorite part of Thanksgiving is "that we get together" with friends and family.

As the Albrights crossed the finish line, they raised their hands in triumph, with dad Kyle holding onto Levi's turkey hat. 

Among the young participants was 7-year-old Addie Baker, who was huffing and puffing in her turkey costume after crossing the finish line. She was "tired and happy," and looking forward to breakfast.

"We live just around the corner so we run it every year," dad Chris Baker said.

Also drawn to the event for its family atmosphere were friends from Zimbabwe, Kudzai Mafarachisi, Sandra Guzha and Joyce Hamba.

"We do races on our own together," said Mafarachisi, of Ijamsville. "We just wanted something to do with the kids."

It's good to "keep the kids active" before everyone goes home to "pig out after," she said with a grin.

Gearing up for the 5K were husband and wife Brian McCarthy and Anna Barnes. The New Market couple raced in festive pajamas, but McCarthy added a little extra pizzazz to his look — an inflatable turkey.

"I've run this thing three years in a row," he said.

McCarthy said they've run a Halloween race in costume, too. His wife usually signs them up before he knows they're going.

"I do all of these and I drag him out," she said.

"It's always great to get that email," McCarthy added.

He said their plans for the rest of the day would likely include a nap, some mimosas, and lamb for dinner.

Watching the race from possibly the best seats on the street, Annette Jeffers and her family gazed out over the crowd a few feet from their front porch. She and her husband Bob moved to Frederick in January. Their daughter Becki Pfeil and son-in-law Dan joined them for the holiday.

"We had no idea that there was even going to be a race this year," Jeffers said, but she was "thrilled" to witness it.

Jeffers said the family plans to run next year.

"It's a great place to live," she said.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller 

(2) comments


Great event all around, and for a fantastic cause. We never miss it.


Jeff Dunham, arguably the most talented ventriloquist ever, had all his familiar characters say what they're thankful for in 2021. Classic Jeff Dunham humor!

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