On your mark, get set: Sesame Place Classic returning in May

Youngsters once again will be competing in the Sesame Sprint on May 15, 2022 at the Sesame Place Classic.
      Here’s something to look forward to in the new year: The return of the Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic 5K at the popular theme park in Langhorne.
      After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Classic is scheduled for its 22nd edition on May 15.
      The Classic, which includes the featured 5K (3.1-mile) race along with a one-mile fun run and Sesame Sprint competition for youngsters, promises to be an exciting addition to the race schedule.      
      Sure, next spring is a long way off but if you’re making out your running calendar for next year, here’s a chance to circle May 15 with a big, bold, red marker pen.
      The Classic, sponsored by the Levittown Bristol Kiwanis Club and the Bucks County Herald, will be back with all the usual fun.  
      And if you consider yourself an early bird, registration for all three distances will be open on Saturday, Jan. 1, 12 noon. To register, visit the Classic website at www.sesameplaceclassic5k.com
      Proceeds from the race go to the Dick Dougherty Scholarship Fund, named for the late sports editor of the Bucks County Courier Times. Since the race’s inception in 1999, close to $500,000 has been raised to assist college-bound scholar-athletes from 18 Bucks County high schools.
      “It’s been a long hiatus since we could once again honor 34
scholar-athletes from Bucks County schools,’’ said Levittown Bristol Kiwanis Club member Dixie Rhodes. “This feat is accomplished through proceeds from the race and contributions from local businesses and individuals to the Dick Dougherty Scholarship Fund.
      “The Covid pandemic interrupted our mission, but it didn’t stop our efforts.  We are back! Our Kiwanis Club is determined to make the race bigger and better than any of the previous years. With your help we can accomplish that. Where else can serious runners and families join for a morning of conviviality, competition and consorting with characters from Sesame Place?’’    
      There are plenty of traditional features coming back for next year’s Classic, including a free, one-day admission ticket to Sesame Place for all who register.
      Also returning are “finisher’s medals,’’ which proved to be quite popular for the 21st anniversary Classic way back in 2019, along with special T-shirts.
      “It’s a chance to bring out the whole family,’’ said Kiwanis member Mary Berman. “There’s something for everyone. The Sesame Place free ticket is quite popular and many runners wear their race T-shirt with pride. It’s just a great day.’’
      Added Rhodes: “To me, the best part of the race is seeing the joy of a young runner interacting with his/her favorite Sesame character; or seeing grandma and grandpa ‘racing’ with his/her grandchildren. The competition for some is real but for others it’s a wonderful family outing. Everyone is a winner.’’
      Jill Gilardi, who coordinates registration and results along with Linmark Sports, also looks forward to another day of racing and fun at Sesame Place when May 15 rolls around.
       “Having the Sesame Place Classic return in 2022 is the right thing to do,’’ Gilardi said.  “The race team is excited!  The preparations have begun and it is shaping up to be one of the best yet.  We hope that the school teams and families have a strong presence at the race this year.  Seeing the families come year after year is special.  The school teams are great to see too. It’s always fun to find out  which school will win the spirit trophy. Getting back to normal is our hope;  showing the families a good time, for a great cause.’’
      Jill Saul of Kiwanis also appreciates everything that comes with this special day.
      “The members of the Kiwanis Club of Levittown Bristol are thrilled to once again offer the Classic to runners and their families and to honor those scholar-athletes who have distinguished themselves in their schools and the community,’’ she said.  
      When the race is over, final preparations begin for the annual awards banquet the following week.
      One male and one female scholar-athlete from each high school is honored at the banquet and receives a check from the Dougherty Scholarship Fund.
      “Not only are the award winners outstanding athletes, they possess an excellent grade point average,’’ Rhodes pointed out. “In addition they are leaders in their school and their community. Our future will be safe in their hands.’’ 
      For more information about the Classic, visit www.sesameplaceclassic5k.com.
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Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.