More than 450 people participated in the annual Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot in Cape Carteret. (Brad Rich photo)

CAPE CARTERET — Serious runners, at least one Santa Claus, a few turkeys, moms pushing babies in strollers – more than 450 people altogether – joined by numerous leashed dogs, hit the streets of Cape Carteret at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day in the town’s annual Turkey Trot.

Participants in the event at The GYM Cape Carteret Aquatic & Wellness Center ran or walked either a 5K or -mile course, both non-timed, through the residential Star Hill area, burning off calories before stuffing themselves in the festive feasts that followed later in the day.

Deanna McElmon, owner-operator of The GYM, said she was happy to see the big crowd and would, as always, donate some of the proceeds from entry fees to the help complete and improve the Cape Carteret Trail, a mostly complete 3.1-mile asphalt loop along Highway 24, Taylor Notion Road and Highway 58. The trail project will eventually include exercise areas, gardens, nature trails, wooded areas and numerous memorial benches. 

“It’s truly a community event, and we’re always happy to do it,” McElmon said before the runners and walkers took off. “We’re proud of all the volunteers that help make it happen.”

The Croatan High School track team judged the costume contest, four Scout troops donated 400 muffins, and students from Swansboro High School directed parking while students also manned the early morning registration table.

“It’s all about community – it’s for them and we couldn’t do it without them,” McElmon said.

Cape Carteret Mayor Will Baker was happy to be there.

“I think it’s awesome, and we really appreciate Deanna doing it every year,” the mayor said. “The first time I came out here a few years ago, I was amazed. I had no idea this many people would get up early on Thanksgiving and run around without anybody chasing them.”

Mayor Baker said the event means a lot to the town.

“There are people here from all over,” he said. “It’s a big deal. Four hundred people is lot in this little town. That’s about a quarter of our population. Hopefully, they’ll check out our little town and spend some money at our businesses before they leave.

The town approved the trail project in 2015 with a goal of finishing it by 2018, but donations and grants dried up. Last year, the town found out the N.C. General Assembly included $500,000 in this year’s budget to help complete the trail, but McElmon, owner and operator of the GYM, still wants to help.


Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.


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