Thousands of silver bells rang out Sunday in New Baltimore as runners and walkers flocked to downtown for the annual .
About 1,000 runners and 500 walkers tied bells to their running shoes before starting the 5K run and one-mile walk outside of on Main Street. The course led Jingle Bell runners through downtown to the finish line on Washington Street outside of the .
Chuck Robinet, an event co-director for the past 29 years, said Sunday that participation and proceeds were up this year. kept about 200 of the 1,400 pre-registered participants from heading downtown for the run. About 1,400 people participated in 2009.
“It’s a family thing and it brings lots of happy people into town," he said of the event.
Jingle Bell Run raises money for cause
Proceeds from race registration fees help provide student scholarships and fund club-related activities for the DECA Club, a national marketing student association that helps organize the event each year.
The night before the run, DECA Club members put together more than 1,000 bags to hand out to race participants. The bags held a map, advertisements from local businesses, a message from the DECA Club, bells to wear in the race, a candy cane and Christmas ornament.
“We give money to MDA and we also give scholarships out to graduating seniors,” said Robinet, a Chesterfield Township resident and retired Anchor Bay High School teacher and DECA advisor. “Last year, we gave out three $500 scholarships.”
Last year’s Jingle Bell Run earned about $10,000, he noted.
Some run for fun, others for competition
Robinet said the race is mainly just for fun, but added skilled runners do enjoy participating in the event.
Lyanne Norcross traveled from Sarnia, Ontario with her daughter Jaimee Desrochers and friend Kiana Waters to complete the run for her third time.
“When I did it the last two times, (Jaimee) was in a stroller and now that she runs, I thought it’d be a good race to bring them to,” Norcross said in the recreation center before the run. “We’re not used to running in the cold winter, so it’s fun. This is Kiana’s first time racing, so it’s a good experience.”
Desrochers and Waters run for the cross-country team at St. Christopher High School in their hometown.
“It seems like a lot more people are out to do it,” Norcross said, comparing this year’s run to her previously attended ones. “It’s a lot bigger than I remember, and it’s nice to see a lot more younger kids participating and families, too.”
Fraser resident and first-time Jingle Bell runner Erik Terman brought his daughter Katelynn, who ran in the event last year, hoping she’d have a better experience sans snow this year.
“She runs cross-country and track at her school,” Terman said. “She wants to have a better time than last year and we just want to keep healthy.”
Dozens of spectators lined the streets to cheer on friends and family in the race, listen to familiar holiday songs near the DJ set up on Washington Street or visit with Santa Claus.
Rob and Shannon Austin of Lenox waited at the finish line, cheering as their 12-year-old daughter Lauren completed her third, 5K race.
“It’s something she wants to do and something that makes her happy,” Rob Austin said about why they brought her to run, adding that she runs cross-country at .
Museum open house coincides with run
About 150 Jingle Bell Run attendees took a break from the cold while visiting the , where New Baltimore Historical Society members host their annual Christmas open house to coincide with the Jingle Bell Run.
“Today has been great; everyone’s stopping by to get warm and get some cookies and hot chocolate,” said New Baltimore Historical Society Secretary Judy Stucky.
Stucky of Chesterfield Township has been involved with New Baltimore’s historical group for more than 10 years along with her husband, Dan, who serves as the society’s vice president.
“We want to let people come in and get warmed up,” Dan Stucky said, adding that the society gained a couple members during the day. “We want to open our doors. We’re part of the community and part of New Baltimore.”
Jingle Bell runner Joey Burelle of Sterling Heights was the male overall first-place winner with a time of 15 minutes and 36 seconds. The female overall first-place winner was Cassie Bloch of St. Clair Shores with a time of 19 minutes and 18 seconds.