They sported hand-crocheted bison hats and wore blazoning yellow T-shirts that succinctly explained their reason for attending the Turkey Trot.
The shirts read: “A Family Tradition.”
A tradition, indeed. Way back in 1933, when FDR’s New Deal was making global headlines, Amy Koppmann’s grandfather ran in Turkey Trot for the first time.
Flash ahead 83 years, and some of his descendants carry on the ritual. Koppmann, a Grand Island said they renewed the tradition 21 years ago, when one of Buffalo’s most famous traditions celebrated its 100th anniversary.
“It’s the best thing to do on Thanksgiving morning,” the Grand Island resident told WBFO shortly before the big race began.
Even as the race was underway, food was on the minds on some people. One passionate runner passed spectators who gathered at Niagara Square and hollered some advice. "Eat more turkey! Eat your turkey, Please," he shouted.
Emily Baumgarden of Angola ran her 10th Turkey Trot Thursday. Her grandmother began the family ritual a decade ago, but Baumgarden said Grandma's knees are what they used to be.
Dean Southwell of Derby has been running in the event for four years, although he made it clear that he uses the word "running" loosely.
"I'm more of a turkey than a trotter," he confided.
Make no mistake: this event has become a cross-border attraction. Just ask Doug Ireland who lives in the St. Catharines, Ontario region.
“It’s lots of fun to experience the people, the costumes, the atmosphere,” he said.
Ah, yes. The costumes. In the span of only about 20 minutes, WBFO spotted the following: a skilled juggler
who managed to keep several balls in the air as he jogged down Delaware Avenue from North Buffalo into the downtown core. Two playful squirrels. A Santa who was guided by a friendly black lab. A man sporting only a G-string and a smile, followed by another who wore a speedo. Dozens of oversized turkeys, cartoon characters, super heroes and a human centipede that stretched at least 25 feet. A wishful thinker dressed as a Buffalo Sabre, carrying a handmade replica of the Stanley Cup.
“I think there’s a lot of crazy ones,” said grade-schooler Ethan Pfeiffer of Elma.
We weren’t quite sure if Ethan was referring to the costumes or the eclectic mix of runners.
Perhaps Linda Gerbec of Amherst summed it up best.
“It’s a great way to spend the morning with 13,999 other people,” said Gerbec as she braved a slight chill. “It’s an awesome event.”