Arlington Forest native Mark Riley has been managing the Arlington Turkey Trot for a decade and enjoys being called “Chief Turkey.”
“It’s fun. And if you are having fun, you can do great things,” Riley (or Chief Turkey) told ARLnow. “If you are not having fun, it’s very difficult to get people to want to do anything.”
The annual Thanksgiving 5K is set to take place on Thursday, Nov. 24 at 8 a.m. this year, starting on N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park. The race is likely returning to the course — through the Lyon Park and Ashton Heights neighborhoods — that was run prior to the pandemic, per the event’s website.
Wherever this year’s race may trot through, Riley plans to be there donning a turkey costume as he has since 2013.
“This community loves to get together in a festive, heartening, helpful, friendly, joyous atmosphere. [The turkey trot] has become a tradition in Arlington County over the years,” Riley said. “People keep coming over, over, and over again. They bring their kids. Then, the kids who grow up bring their kids. And it just keeps going on and on.”
The Arlington Turkey Trot was first started in 2006 by Christ Church of Arlington Pastor Brian Webster and his wife Diane. That first run had about 300 joggers, runners, and walkers. This year’s race is expected to attract about 4,000 trotters and raise about $120,000 for assorted local charities, equivalent to pre-pandemic numbers.
Riley said that initially the trot only supported a few organizations, but last year they expanded the number of charities that received funds to 18. Those include Path Forward, Arlington Thrive, R.E.A.D., Phoenix Bikes, and others.
“A number of nonprofits, typically smaller budgeted non-profits, have been knocking on [our] door to say we want to be included,” said Riley. “We did not know how to say no to any of them. So, we included them all.”
For his work over the years, Riley is being presented with a “Spirit of Community” award by the Arlington Community Foundation next week. The acknowledgment had him “tearing up,” he said because it’s a reminder of how passionate the community is about helping others.
There was some gobbling that Riley may be hanging up his feathers as the Chief Turkey after this year’s race, but he said those rumors are fowl.
Yes, 2021 was particularly tough due to the lingering impact of Covid and a shortage of police officers, but this year has proven Riley still has the energy of a poult. With a bit of extra support and taking on fewer tasks, he said that the plan is to keep on gobbling as Chief Turkey “for the foreseeable future.”
Besides being able to provide for those less fortunate in the community, what Riley really loves about the trot is seeing the joy it brings so many people. On often-chilly Thanksgiving mornings, watching families run together and kids darting across the finish line fills him with warm feelings.
Adding to the good vibes, every kid that finishes gets a medal.
“The thing that really resonates for [me] when I think of the trot is… joy. I think of joy probably more than anything else,” Riley said. “People who have big, joyous smiles on their faces. They love the turkey trot.”
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Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
There’s no official word on its website, but it looks like Bar Ivy in Clarendon may have closed permanently.
Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.