Winner, winner, turkey dinner: Students' fast feet earn families Thanksgiving feast

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20 2012 4:34 p.m. MST

Lincoln Elementary School students race during the annual Turkey Trot in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. The students raced each other to win Thanksgiving dinners for their families.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Throughout Tuesday morning, students at Lincoln Elementary School took turns lining up by grade and chasing a man in a turkey costume around the playground in a race to win a Thanksgiving dinner for their families.

More often than not, the cutthroat competition saw false starts and pileups of tripped students.

"Last year we had to shovel the snow, and it was all wet," Lincoln Elementary Principal Christine Pittam said. "This year, it's a beautiful day to be out here."

The event was Lincoln Elementary's annual Turkey Trot, an event organized by the school and Salt Lake City School District's Community Learning Center.

"The principal used to be the one in the turkey costume," said Pittam, who joined parents and teachers in cheering on students from the sidelines Tuesday. "When I started here, they told me I didn't have to."

Like the past several years, the Turkey Trot was sponsored by Interior Solutions, which provided volunteers for the turkey costumes, as well as 75 complete Thanksgiving dinners with turkey, salad, potatoes, rolls, stuffing, pie and all the fixings.

Carl Hanson, Utah general manager of Interior Solutions, said the event is a great way to get employees involved and engaged in the community. He said it's great to see the excitement of the students and knowing that the dinners will help families who may have struggled otherwise to provide a Thanksgiving dinner.

"The big event, really, is when you watch their families take away a dinner," he said. "It's pretty substantial."

The winning boy and girl from each grade received a dinner, as well as other school families based on need.

"The kids are just so proud to be helping their family," Pittam said. "When they're picking up that turkey, that's when you can really see it."

Fifth-grader Lionel Rodriguez won his grade's race, continuing a six-year winning streak since he was in kindergarten. Lionel said he was really tired after the run but was excited to eat his turkey, which is his favorite Thanksgiving dish.

Kimberlie Smith was the first winner of the day, coming in ahead of the pack of second-grade girls. Her father, Arthur Smith, said Kimberlie had been excited about the event, telling him that between practicing and her new running shoes, she would definitely win.

"Every day at recess, she would be out here practicing," Smith said.

Smith and his family recently moved to Salt Lake City from California and were participating in the Turkey Trot for the first time Tuesday. He said it was a fun event for both him and his kids and that he was impressed with the kinds of activities Lincoln Elementary and the school district offer.

"The school has a lot of programs to help out, and it's great for the kids," Smith said.

The Turkey Trot has been held at Lincoln Elementary for nearly two decades, but it included new features for 2012. Annika Jones, Community Learning Center coordinator, said the school incorporated an essay contest this year, and the Salt Lake City Library partnered to provide an age-appropriate book in each of the dinner packages.

Organizers also gave out slap bracelets to every student and T-shirts to second-place finishers.

"We try really hard to make sure the kids know this should be fun," Jones said. "Everybody gets a prize."

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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