Long before fireworks burst in air above Peoria’s riverfront, the pitter-patter of patriotic feet resounded along Water Street on Independence Day.
For the 38th time, the Peoria Jaycees sponsored its annual Firecracker 5000 5k, a 3.1 mile run that attracts a fun-seeking crowd as well as serious runners. Beth Hollar, the first to register for this year’s race, participates for one particular reason.
“We run in most races,” Hollar, of Bartonville, said of herself and her husband, “but we really love the patriotic ones.”
Hollar, who ran in a red, white and blue leotard and tutu, star spangled tube socks and fairy wings, has participated in the Firecracker for many years. Her husband Kyle began joined the race a few years ago, and this year, two of her cousins and her nephew, Joe Colvin, signed up.
Her cousins, Aaron and Andrew Dunham live in Pelion, South Carolina. Originally from Bartonville, the Dunhams were in the area to visit relatives. Both dressed patriotically, but Aaron, 30, stole the show by running in a stars-and-stripes suit, tie and dress shoes.
“Here comes Mr. Patriotic!” a Jaycees volunteer announced as Dunham neared the finish line, placing 123 out of 576. As the 453 runners behind him streamed in, most of them wore some manner of Americana.
Some attire was downright snarky. Barry Bredeman of Chillicothe wore a t-shirt featuring a British flag surrounded by the words, “Happy Treason Day, Ungrateful Colonists.” Another shirt read, “Four Score and Seven Beers Ago”, with Abraham Lincoln holding a draft beer.
Feet weren’t the only dogs in the race. Some spectators and runners brought pets along. Long-time local radio personality, Anna Kinkade, ran with her black Labrador Retriever, Boyd.
“Boyd ran his first 5k today!!! I am one proud dog mom,” Kinkade, of 105.7 The X, wrote in a Facebook post. “He had a rough start, but once we set a rhythm he did excellent.”
After the race, Boyd barely seemed winded as he waited for Kinkade to serve him a dish of cool water. The Jaycees provided complimentary bottled water, Powerade and Bud Lite drafts. Human registration cost around $35. Dogs ran for free.
The Peoria Jaycees focus on community betterment, and all funds raised help with local charities and provide leadership opportunities for its members, who range in age from 21-40, though those above the age of 40 may join as associate members.
Other events the Jaycees host are the Das Bier Run 5k and the Peoria Jaycees’ International Beerfest. Though the fundraisers include beer, they remain family-oriented, and the Firecracker divisions include children as younger than 10.
Lili Garrison, 7, of Metamora, took first place in the Female 1-10 category. Joshua Stedwell, 10, of Dunlap placed first in the Male 1-10 division. Conversely, Peoria’s Mike Rucker, 78, was first in the Male +75, and Nancy Coon, 70, from Germantown Hills, was number one in the Female 70-74.
For comprehensive Firecracker 5000 results, visit www.athlinks.com/event/17125. To learn more about the Peoria Jaycees, including events and membership, visit the Peoria Jaycees web site..