Jun 302011

Published by Coastal Point

This Monday, the 28th Annual Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade will take to the streets in downtown Bethany. Each year, T-shirt sales and local benefits help raise funds to put together the summertime celebration, but one event, in particular, has had more and more participants lacing up and hitting the road. The third annual Firecracker 5K and 3K walk saw a record number of participants this past Sunday, helping to sustain the financial support of the parade.

“We were thrilled with this year’s turnout,” said Greg Mavraganis, coordinator of the Firecracker 5K. “It’s still a relatively new event, but I think we’re starting to see what it can become. The participants continue to increase each year. The first two years were great, but to increase to 350 participants in the third year is more than we expected.”

In the Firecracker 5K’s inaugural run in 2009, 200 participants came out, then 60 more registered in 2010. This year, 350 runners and walkers represented 13 different states. Maryland contributed the most, with 95 participants. Delaware was right behind with 90, while 71 came from Pennsylvania and 47 from Virginia. Their ages ranged from 6 to 70, and while plenty of newcomers tried their hands (and feet) at the race, numbers showed that newcomers played a big role in the participation jump.

“I think it reflects the community support that exists in Bethany Beach,” said Mavraganis, “and that is why we wanted to start the event in the first place. Bethany’s July 4th parade is a terrific event – a real tribute to the town and our country. The parade director [Phil Rossi] and I are happy that the race has been well received.”

Several of the runners and walkers showed up with family members participating, as well. One family even had 10 registered participants.

“Those trends are great to see,” Mavraganis added, “because that is the vision for this event – a family-friendly activity that can develop into a July 4th tradition. I grew up decorating my bike for the parade and watching the fireworks on the beach with my family and cousins. If we can build an event for family and friends to participate in each year, then that will be very rewarding. And at the same time, we’ll be supporting the parade.”

The Firecracker 5K recognized and awarded the top five male and top five female finishers, overall. The top five male finishers, all who came in under 19 minutes, were: Phil Cook (17:09), Dan Moroney (17:15), Michael Montano (17:38), Victor Schultz (17:55) and David Fedor (18:59). The top female finishers were Alexis Hatcher (20:36), Emily Fox (21:09), Liz Gregorio (22:16) and Sara Benfor (22:29).

Cook has won the event, overall, in all three years and has improved significantly since the start. In 2009, he came in first with a winning time of 18:24, then 17:56 in 2010. Cook currently holds the course record with his time this past Sunday of 17:09.

“This large turnout creates some optimism for next year, too,” said Mavraganis. “Although it’s a long way off, I’m hopeful that the community will continue to support the race. Do I think 400 is within reach for 2012? Last month I probably would have said ‘no,’ but after having 350 last week, it’s certainly an exciting possibility!”

The 28th Annual Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade will take place this Monday, July 4, starting in downtown Bethany Beach at noon. Music, games and fun will continue throughout the day, leading up to the Bethany Beach fireworks display at dusk.

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