Latrobe’s annual Thanksgiving Day pre-feast calorie burning custom, the Turkey Trot, is still on even as coronavirus (COVID-19) case totals in Westmoreland County have seen record highs in recent days.

During Thursday’s Latrobe-GLSD Parks & Recreation Commission meeting, director Craig Shevchik said he’s hopeful a field of 500 will turn out for the annual Thanksgiving Day staple.

As of Thursday’s meeting, 489 runners and walkers had registered for the race, which is set to continue in its 26th year as an in-person event set for Nov. 26 at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. Shevchik said most years, the event draws 950 to 1,100 runners and walkers. A virtual race option is also available for those who can’t attend or choose to stay away from the in-person race over coronavirus concerns.

Race-day participants will be split into “pods” of 100 runners as the race features staggered start times to help comply with social distancing recommendations, Shevchik said. Racers will be required to wear masks in the starting area.

Registration can be done online at the Latrobe-GLSD Parks & Recreation website at www.latroberecreation.org or at the organization’s office, located on the second floor of the Latrobe Municipal Building, 901 Jefferson St., Latrobe.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser,” Shevchik said of the event. “There’s no doubt about it.”

In addition to staggered start times and mask requirements, Shevchik said race participants looking to hydrate during and after the race will be able to choose from water in cups or sealed plastic bottles of water donated by Walmart.

The post-race awards ceremony will utilize the bleachers at Memorial Stadium, which are already marked off to encourage social distancing, he added.

For those who wish to forgo the in-person race, a virtual option will be available as well, Shevchik noted.

“If you feel uncomfortable with the current situation, you can go ahead and still compete in the race,” he said previously, adding that the virtual race is $20 per person. Virtual participants will have the option to submit their times if they choose.

Latrobe-GLSD Parks & Recreation Commission member Dan Hennessy during Thursday’s meeting provided an update on the organization’s 2021 budget preparations. He said uncertainty regarding the coronavirus pandemic is posing a unique challenge for budget projections. One early version of the budget was based on a scenario in which all Latrobe-GLSD Parks & Recreation programs are canceled through the first six months of 2021, he said. Budgets reflecting other scenarios are still in the works. The commission won’t likely vote on a 2021 budget until January.

“We all need to appreciate the fact that this is going to be a big time dart throw,” Hennesy said of budget projections in these uncertain times.

“And the target is going to continue to move,” Latrobe-GLSD Parks & Recreation Commission chairman Tom Long added.

The commission approved a contract for snow removal on an as-needed basis with Unity Township-based McMahan Construction. The company quoted the commission a price of $65 per hour for snow removal work for the parking lots and walking trail at Legion-Keener Park, plus the cost of salt — $13.75 per bag for salt used on the path and $118 per ton for rock salt used on the parking lots.

Shevchik said the organization does not perform snow removal on the Lincoln Avenue Trail.

In other business Thursday:

  • Shevchik told the commission Latrobe-GLSD Parks & Recreation was awarded $24,720 through the first round of the Westmoreland CARES grant program and has applied for funding through the second round of the grant. Grant awards through the program are capped at $25,000 for coronavirus-related expenses;
  • The commission learned restrooms at Latrobe-GLSD Parks & Recreation facilities have been locked and winterized;
  • Commission members lauded the Latrobe-GLSD Parks & Recreation staff after the organization was recently named the Non-profit of the Year by the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce;
  • Shevchik told the commission city officials are looking to expand the network of surveillance cameras within the city utilized by the Latrobe Police Department, and noted an expansion to a citywide system would likely include additional cameras at parks and playgrounds.

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