Runnin O’ the Green on SaturdayEven though today is St. Patrick’s Day — for Jamestown the real celebration kicks off on Saturday with thousands taking part in the Running O’ the Green.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Even though today is St. Patrick’s Day — for Jamestown the real celebration kicks off on Saturday with thousands taking part in the Running O’ the Green.
A throng of possibly 3,000 or more people will descend on Jamestown and make its way through the streets, stopping at local watering holes for a tradition that dates back 33 years.
But the origins of the fabled event in Jamestown don’t date back to revelry — but to charity for those less fortunate.
The Elks Camp Grassick, local cancer patients and a paralyzed Jamestown College athlete will each receive funds generated by those participants kind enough to register.
“Anybody that’s suffering deserves help and in all of those cases none of these people are suffering because of their own doing,” said Larry Knoblich, event founder.
Camp Grassick, near Dawson, N.D., helps people with physical and mental disabilities and shows them as much of a camping experience as it can. It is the main charity for the Elks clubs in North Dakota.
Knoblich started the run for a benefit for Camp Grassick.
Then around 1980 during another charity run, The Not so Famous Run on the River Run — a 5-mile dash on the frozen James River — Knoblich decided to use additional funds for young cancer patients.
This year the former Jamestown High School track and field coach decided to give some of the donations to James Vollmer who became paralyzed after a failed pole vault attempt.
“I’ve coached pole vault for 30 years and every time a kid pole vaulted I held my breath because there’s such a high potential for injury,” he said.
Runners are asked to pay the $10 registration fee, even though not all do. Last year the event raised close to $18,000 for those charities.
Those who wait till the day of the event can expect long lines, Knoblich said.
People can register early at Cork & Barrel today and Friday and at Shady’s from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday. The cost is $10.
“I have a special place in my heart for those people that suffer,” he said.
While Knoblich and his wife, Joan, are at the core of the run, the event wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers, said Joyce Heinrich, a volunteer for the past decade.
Close to 100 volunteers do everything from register people to pick up trash to punch tags at the different bars, Heinrich said.
“It’s just a fun day for the volunteers,” Heinrich said.
While many participate in the Run, a few every year have too much fun.
Last year 33 people were cited for unlawful possession of alcohol, or having an open container in public.
Police also arrested three for consumption or possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21; four for disorderly conduct and three for driving under the influence.
Two injuries and two assaults were reported, as well as three disorderly conduct/fight calls, according to Police Chief Dave Donegan.
“There’s a lot of life in these kids,” Knoblich said. “They don’t have to live it all in one weekend.”
Law enforcement will be out in increased numbers again this year.
“Do not drive if you’re drinking. We will have extra officers looking for drunk driving, that’s what their duty will be,” Donegan said.
He also said runners should consume drinks in the designated areas and use the portable toilets.
Although their jurisdiction is technically outside of the city, the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office will have officers patrol the city looking for violations.
“During that time we have the regional (DUI) enforcement — the 18th and 19th,” said Sheriff Chad Kaiser “So we have to have people out for DUI enforcement.”
Kaiser anticipated a total of five or six sheriff units on patrol during the run and the early morning after.
“Be safe if you’re intoxicated and take a cab,” he said. “There’s no reason to drive in this town during the Run.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org