SIDNEY — Look out Sidney! Tootie the Traveling Tutu’d Turkey has arrived in the city.
Tootie is the official mascot of the Thanksgiving Day 5K run/Walk to End Hunger sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church of Sidney. The Turkey Trot will be held Thursday, Nov. 24, at 8:30 a.m. at the church.
In lieu of a registration fee, participants are asked to bring non-perishable food items, which will be donated to the Alpha Center food pantry and Holy Angels soup kitchen.
In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the race, Sarah Steenrod, race coordinator, wanted to add something special. Thus Tootie was hatched.
Tootie is a paper mache turkey which was created by Steenrod’s niece, Melanie Ingraham, of Marysville. She is an art teacher with Bellefontaine City School.
“A member of our church works at S&H Products and he was telling me about Mitchell the Giraffe who traveled from location to location,” said Steenrod. “I contacted them to get permission from them to use their idea.”
Steenrod said it took a couple of weeks for Ingraham to finish Tootie. Steenrod went to Marysville two days to help her.
Tootie was painted by Steenrod at Inspired By Art Center.
“I knew a wanted a turkey in a tutu,” said Steenrod. “The sisters who own Inspired By Art have an Aunt Tootie and I thought that sounded like a fun name.”
With the Turkey Trot just a few weeks away, Tootie will begin visiting area businesses promoting the 5K.
“Tootie will be visiting the Sidney Police Department today,” said Steenrod. “She will be turning in the required paperwork for the use of public streets for the Turkey Trot.”
The week of Oct. 4, Tootie will be visiting Panache Day Spa where her feathers will be fluffed up so she looks good for the walk. The week of Oct. 11, she will visit Shelby Chiropractic where she will have her shoes and feet looked at to make sure she can run in the event.
Her visit the week of Oct. 18 will be at Davis Meats, where she will order a ham for her Thanksgiving meal.
The week of Oct. 25, she’ll visit Northwood Elementary School and help the students and staff get the collection boxes ready for the school’s food drive. Tootie will be visiting the UPS Store the week of Nov. 1 so she can copy her registration form and turn it in for the race.
The week of Nov. 8, Tootie will be ordering her Thanksgiving pies from the Spot Restaurant. She will be praying for those who will receive the food raised at the walk/run the week of Nov. 15 at First Presbyterian Church.
Her final stop on her journey will be the week of Nov. 22 at the Alpha Center.
“Tootie will be looking at the empty shelves at the food pantry, knowing that in just a few days the runners and walkers will help fill those empty shelves with food,” said Steenrod.
Tootie’s photo at each location will be published in the Sidney Daily News and placed on the church’s Facebook page.
“People really like the Turkey Trot because its a noncompetitive event, said Steenrod. “They have made this their Thanksgiving morning tradition. It’s a chance for them to see other people who are only in town for the holiday.”
The walk begins at the church and the participants will walk to Tawawa Park. They’ll cross the covered bridge and when they reach a tree in the road, they’ll turn around and return to the church, she said.
The event, said Steenrod, began with a conversation with her neighbor.
“We joked that since it was Thanksgiving, we needed to exercise before we eat,” said Steenrod. “Suddenly it morphed into a 5K. She comes with her family every single year.
Last year, 900 people registered for the walk/run.
“I’d love to see us collect 10,000 pounds of food,” said Steenrod. “The people can either make a food or cash donation. They can purchase T-shirts online and also do cash donations online.”
The walk, she said, has a festival flare to it.
“It’s fun to watch the people,” said Steenrod. “I am the official turkey for the event. I stand on a ladder to clang the pot lids together to send the walkers and runners off.”
Steenrod said a wooden frame with turkeys and a face opening on each one will be available for photographs. She will also pose with the participants for photos also.
“We are a pet-friendly walk,” said Steenrod. “We’ve never had a dog fight.”
In 2015, the 5K participants donated approximately 7,300 pounds of food and $3,200. In 2014, they collected approximately 8,000 pounds of food and $3,500. From 2009 to 2013, approximately 17,500 pounds of food was collected along with cash donations of $7,100.
“The need is definitely there,” said Steenrod. “What we collect will last the Alpha Center about a month.
“There have been so many things that have happened along with way with the race that it’s definitely God’s event,” said Steenrod. “We’re just helping him out.
“This is my favorite thing to do all year,” she said. “People come out of the woodwork to help with the event.”
Since it’s the 10th anniversary of the race, Steenrod is hoping the participants use the No. 10 for the event.
“Whether they bring 10 friends or family members to the walk, or donate 10 food items, I hope that they all have a good time,” said Steenrod.
Online registration for the race is available at www.sidneyfirstpres.org. Registration forms are also available at the church, 202 N. Miami Ave., Sidney.
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