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Elizabethtown’s inaugural New Year’s Dash 5K Run-Walk attracted more than 150 runners and walkers and will return to downtown next year, but Events Coordinator Sarah Vaughn said she wants to adjust certain facets to improve quality.
However, uncertainty exists around the return of the city’s first New Year’s Eve Party at the Historic State Theater and companion fireworks show at midnight. A decision on their future, she said, will be made later this year.
Runners and walkers braved the cold after a rainy New Year’s Eve night to tackle the 3.1-mile course, the main leg of which ran along North Main Street and hooked down side streets. Vaughn said 176 participants registered for the event, which saw some runners sprinting at blistering speeds to cross the finish line while others cruised at a leisurely pace. Colorful costumes and masks were chosen while others wore formal wear or pajamas.
“We were very excited with the turnout,” Vaughn said. “I’ve now gone back to runners and walkers I had email addresses for and asked them for their feedback and constructive criticism.”
Several have responded and told Vaughn they found the dash “new and refreshing” and a great asset to the city.
Vaughn also credited the organizations that helped the city coordinate the dash because she was a neophyte when it comes to planning races.
“This is the first 5K I’ve ever organized,” she said.
Tweaks are under discussion, including an update on the way runners and walkers are timed. Vaughn turned to the expertise of the Central Hardin High School track and field and cross country program for help in timing the dash, but she said there are more technologically advanced methods the city could use.
She wants to incorporate chip timing, a lightweight chip identifying runners or walkers as they cross strategically placed electronic mats in future years, but those systems can prove expensive. Vaughn said she likely will pursue a sponsor to fund the timing program.
Logistical fine tuning also will be explored during 2013 planning because the city did not anticipate such a large showing. For instance, Vaughn said she only purchased 150 T-shirts for distribution to participants.
“One fifty was me shooting high,” she said, noting she would have been satisfied with a group of 75.
Hours earlier, a crowd of roughly 80 gathered at the Historic State Theater for music, food and a cash bar to ring in the New Year. With the stroke of midnight, the city sounded off a colorful fireworks show that was visible throughout downtown.
Vaughn said she has not received much feedback about the party but some have approached her saying they were unaware it was an option. The fireworks, meanwhile, proved popular as some residents preferred to find a comfortable spot downtown to welcome 2013 rather than stay at home and watch the ball drop in Times Square on television.
When asked if the fireworks would return, Vaughn said, “I hope so.” The future of the party is unknown as well, which may have been hampered by ingrained yearly rituals.
“New Year’s Eve is very difficult to start because people already have traditions and some people like to stay home for safety reasons and other reasons,” she said.
The city set up curbside cab service for those who needed an alternative way home and business cards for cab services were sprinkled on tables and spots throughout the State Theater, but Vaughn was unsure how much the services were utilized.
“To be honest, I’m not sure,” she said. “I think most people had their own (designated drivers).”
Vaughn said the goal was to create a laid back atmosphere where people could have fun while simultaneously promoting precautions.
“We put a great venue together for that, but we also wanted people to have a safe way home,” she said.
Mayor Tim Walker, who walked in the dash, said the city definitely plans to bring back the dash and the fireworks and has had some feedback about adding something to the square, such as a ball drop.
“I think it’s definitely something we want to do again,” he said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.