Rain, wind and chilly temperatures did little to dampen spirits displayed at the annual Thanksgiving Pie Run, held first thing Thursday morning at Hart Park.
Participants gathered at 6 a.m. and the mood was jovial from the start. There was lively chatter and cheering around a barbecue fire, and an assortment of baked goods and fresh coffee was in tow as runners, joggers and walkers prepared to hit the course.
Longtime Pie Run participants said the annual Bakersfield tradition has been taking place for roughly 40 years. Sid Fulce added the event was moved to Hart Park in the mid-to-late 1980s. Only a small handful of times has it taken place in the rain, he said, although those were certainly the conditions Thursday.
The wet weather ultimately kept the crowd down, Fulce said — he estimated that there were just over 100 folks in attendance, compared to 300 to 400 most years when things are typically dry and the sun rises can be captivating.
“Usually you see it coming up right over that mountain,” said Michelle Beck, pointing eastward into the morning darkness. “But not today.”
Regardless, the smiles were wide for those in attendance.
“It’s not even half the crowd that we usually get, but either way we have a great crowd,” Fulce said.
Many trekked in informal routes to run, jog or simply saunter before returning to the Pie Run's centralized home base for fresh coffee and a variety of treats — homemade pies, rum cake, cookies, muffins and sweet bread were all on display on tables underneath a lit canopy in the middle of Hart Park.
“Anything you want unhealthy is right here,” quipped Jim Cowles, sinking his teeth into a hunk of cranberry walnut bread. “This right here is the best.”
Muddy conditions played a factor for some, although Fulce was quick to point out that chilly weather can be good for a morning jog before adding “you know, runners are a hearty bunch.”
Anna Lango, who grew up in Bakersfield before moving to Oregon, said she came back for the holiday and to participate in her 10th Pie Run. It didn't disappoint.
“Loved it,” Lango, 26, said. “It felt like I brought a little bit of Oregon to Bakersfield. Totally worth it.”
Ultimately, the Pie Run started with about 10 gentlemen meeting regularly on Thanksgiving morning to get out of the house and catch some exercise before diving into the holiday feast. Years later it’s evolved into kids, friends and families gathering for a festive tradition.
“You go for a long run, you eat pie, you stay after to chit-chat,” Beck said with a coffee in hand. “Just great fellowship on Thanksgiving.”