Firecracker 5K gets celebration off to a running start

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By Christine Bryant
Staff Writer

The city of Reynoldsburg will wrap up Fourth of July festivities with another round of excitement – this time as runners hit the pavement in the annual Firecracker 5K.

The Reynoldsburg Visitors Bureau is sponsoring the Mount Carmel Firecracker 5K run/walk, scheduled to kick off at 8:30 a.m. July 4 at the Senior Center, 1520 Davidson Drive.

The race routes runners through the city of Reynoldsburg on a 3.1-mile course that will finish at the Senior Center with post-race hospitality.

The event is part of several activities planned for the Fourth of July holiday, said Mary Hudson, director of the Visitors Bureau.

The city will begin the celebration with an Independence Day party at 6 p.m. July 3 in Civic Park, 1600 Daugherty Drive. The celebration will end at 9:45 p.m. with fireworks.

The following day, July 4, the Firecracker 5K will kick off the morning, followed by the city’s annual Fourth of July parade at 10 a.m. The parade route extends from Rosehill Road to Main Street and ends at Huber Park.

The race is a long-standing tradition in Reynoldsburg, though has changed names and dates over the years. Hudson said it will continue to pay tribute to those who have given service to their country and local communities.

“This is the previous Fitness Challenge and is celebrating over 20 years in Reynoldsburg,” Hudson said. “We have police and fireman teams to honor first responders and also our military.”

One of those runners is Reynoldsburg Chief of Police Jim O’Neill, who said the race is a way for city employees to meet the people they serve.

“I think that this race is a great way for me and others who work in or for the city to connect with people on a more down home level,” he said.

Racing is nothing new for O’Neill, who has been involved in sports his whole life. In fact, he was a member of the Ohio State track team in the early 1980s as a pole vaulter.

In 2013, he ran 13 races, which varied in length from 5K to a full marathon.

“For this year, I will be running again,” he said. “I’m hoping to have other runners from the department, but as I’m sure you can imagine, the officers are stretched pretty thin with the fireworks, the race and the parade.”

At last year’s race, participants from the city included O’Neill, clerical staff, city council members, police officers and firefighters.

“There were also three SWAT team members and three firefighters from Truro Township running in full uniform as a fundraiser for DARE and fire prevention education,” he said.

Several other city employees were present along the course and at the finish line to offer support, he said.

Those interested in registering for the Firecracker 5K run/walk can register online at Premierraces.com. Cost to participate is $20 in advance, and includes a T-shirt.

Registration on the day of the event begins at 7 a.m., with a cost of $25 after June 15.

Volunteers also are needed for the Firecracker 5K. To volunteer, call the Visitors Bureau at (614) 866-4888.

Registration for the Fourth of July parade also is available online at reynca.blogspot.com. On this website, residents may also nominate someone for the 2014 parade grand marshal.

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