Pack it on – or run it off at Family’s Turkey Trot or free Woodstock feast

For most of us, Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where the idea of having no family or close friends available to share it with seems almost too horrible to contemplate. And yet many people find themselves in that situation, permanently or temporarily, willingly or not.

In many towns, the solution is obvious: Go help other lonely folks get their turkey and trimmings and convivial company by volunteering at the soup kitchen of a church or community organization. Family of Woodstock offers one of those every year: the Free Thanksgiving Day Feast hosted by the Woodstock Community Center on Rock City Road. And this being Woodstock, you can expect live music to be as essential a part of the menu as yams or stuffing (or Tofurkey, this being Woodstock).

Volunteers are always needed to bring a favorite dish to share, cook a turkey or contribute time or money. Or you can just attend: “Everyone is invited to a heartwarming day filled with good conversation, amazing and delicious food, homemade music and a loving spirit of giving thanks,” says Family’s press release. Thanksgiving dinner is served from 1 to 4 p.m.; contact Family at (845) 679-2485 for more information.

My hometown of New Paltz also has its share of freebie feasts on Thanksgiving Day afternoon, but the morning offers something special that won’t even conflict with most folks’ family dinner gatherings: the annual Turkey Trot race, which raises money for Family of New Paltz. More than 700 runners and walkers are expected to participate this year.

The 5K race for adults and quarter-mile Mashed Potato Kids’ Run take off from the Water Street Market near the western end of Main Street (Route 299, just before the Wallkill River bridge) and mostly follow the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. Registration begins at 8 a.m.; the tater tots start mashing at 9 a.m. and the main race steps off at 9:30. So you can be all done with your run, showered and dressed in plenty of time to help with the side dishes, set the table or carve the bird – then proceed to stuff your face with a clear conscience, because you’ve gotten your exercise in.

Event festivities at the Water Street Market will include face-painting and a 50/50 raffle. Families running together can get their photos taken for a fee; you can carbo-load on tasty treats from Moxie Cupcakes, with part of the proceeds to be donated to Family; and local kids’ music stars the Fuzzy Lollipops and Forest Glen will begin performing at 8:30 a.m.

Participation in the Mashed Potato fun run is free for kids aged 10 and under. The registration fee for the Turkey Trot itself is $20 in advance for runners/walkers aged 19 to 64, $10 in advance for those aged 18 and under or 65 and over. On Thanksgiving Day itself, participants up to age 18 still can register for $10, but anyone aged 19 and over will have to fork over $25. These fees support such Family of New Paltz services as a 24-hour hotline, counseling, support groups, shelters and a food pantry that served more than 1,000 families last year.

If you wish, you can preregister in person and pick up your race packet and tee-shirt on Wednesday, November 23 from noon to 5 p.m. at Rock and Snow on lower Main Street. Registration forms are also available online at, or e-mail [email protected] for additional info.


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