Kids’ fun at Sesame key to Classic’s popularity

The smiles on the faces of youngsters running in the Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic’s Sesame Sprint light up the day’s competition.
       One of the warmest sights you’re ever going to see at a local road race starts with the smiles on the faces of parents as they watch their youngsters complete the annual Sesame Sprint.
      In some cases, it’s the first chance for kids to get a taste of competition, even if it’s only about 50 yards. The look of joy as they cross the finish line is priceless.
      That scene will be repeated again this Sunday when the 22nd annual Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic 5K returns from a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
      More than 75 children are registered for the Sprint. And it goes beyond that, as several hundred more runners under the age of 10 are signed up for either the featured 5K or the 1-miler.
      Overall, more than 1,000 runners are expected to be on hand when activities get underway with the mile race starting at 7 a.m.
      Rose and Steve McIver have been directing the Sesame Sprint for quite a few years and it’s truly a labor of love. They make sure every runner gets a finisher’s medal and encouragement from start to finish.
      “The Sesame Sprint is our favorite part of the Classic,” said Rose. “The kids, from toddlers on up, are so earnest and so adorable. They warm our hearts.’’
      Proceeds from the event go to the Dick Dougherty Honorarium Award, providing financial assistance to college-bound scholar-athletes from 18 Bucks County high schools.
      Since the Classic’s inception in 1999, more than $400,000 has been raised for this worthy cause.
      No doubt there will be some “serious’’ competition in the adult version of the 5K, but much attention also will be paid to the youngsters, because truly this is what Sesame Place is all about.
      Each registered runner will receive a free, one-day admission ticket to Sesame Place, good through Father’s Day (June 18).
      This Sunday, a number of Sesame characters will be on hand to join in the activities. Greeting the young runners, taking photos and interacting with them make the day even a bit more special.
      “There’s something uplifting about seeing the youngsters’ eyes light up and a perpetual smile as they race toward the finish line,’’ said Dixie Rhodes of the Levittown-Bristol Kiwanis Club. “There’s no sign of mental or physical anguish, just joy and happiness. The tykes competing in the sprint just run with complete abandon. When they receive their racing medal their faces light up with unparalleled delight. As the youths mature and someday have families of their own, stories will abound as to how they met Elmo and received a medal in the sprint.”
      To heighten the day’s experience, youngsters can visit the Langhorne-Middletown fire truck and get a look inside.
      Online registration remains open at
      Packet pickup will take place at Oxford Valley Mall (in front of Macy’s) beginning Friday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and continuing on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
      Registration and packet pickup also will be available at the staging area on Sunday morning. Parking lots will be open at 5 a.m.
      It all promises to be a fun day and for children of all ages an experience to remember.
      Race calendar
      SJR 5K, 7 p.m., Warrington. Contact
      Sunset Challenge 5K, 7 p.m., Langhorne. Contact
      Christine Englehardt Memorial 5K, 8 a.m., Newtown. Contact
      22nd annual Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic 5K, 1-mile, Sesame Sprint, 7 a.m., Sesame Place, Middletown. Contact
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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.