Throwback Thursday – Happy Turkey Trot!

Sue Ann Ryan, 9, accepts a turkey from John Keeshan after placing second in her division in the 1987 Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.| Al Holden Collection, Montauk Library Archives

It draws at least 1,000 people today, but the Thanksgiving Day Run for Fun started in 1976 with John Keeshan and only a handful of other runners bounding from the Plaza to Deep Hollow Ranch on Thanksgiving morning.

“Over the years, it grew and … after a while, we ended up with a couple of hundred people,” he recalled in an oral history interview in 2022. “And Gordon Carberry, who was the director of recreation for the town, said, ‘How would you like the town to take this over and do a professional timing and so forth?’”. “And I said, ‘That’d be great,’” Keeshan said. “It was great.”

The trip out to the ranch is about five miles. The present route, around Fort Pond, is three miles. Participants can choose to take one or two laps around the pond — that is, run or walk a total of three or six miles.

“It’s a fun run,” John Keeshan said in the interview. “I mean, there are kids that are professionals … that take it very seriously that are trying to set the record. But you can bring your bicycle, your grandchild, your dog. It’s a run for fun on Thanksgiving morning.”

We’re not sure when the winners started getting trophies instead of turkeys, but we do know that the first 600 participants can pick up T-shirts. Registration raises money for local food pantries, including the one in Montauk.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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