Woolsey Park was full of color as people throughout Hopewell Valley ran and walked in the first Color Fun Run & Walk created by the Hopewell Valley Arts Council.
Families from young children to older adults followed the two-mile course in Hopewell Township on Sept. 19.
The event was inspired by Hindu festival of Holi, according to the HV Arts Council. Holi celebrates the return of spring and symbolizes good triumphing over evil. In different communities it is celebrated as people gather and throw colored powder and water in the air covering themselves and others around them in different colors.
“We were thrilled we sold 100 more tickets than we expected. It is good problem to have. The only bad problem was we had to get expedited shipping for the extra powder that we had to get, because you can’t run out of powder,” said Carol Lipson, executive director of the HV Arts Council. “I hoping for a bigger event every year.”
It took a day to set up the course and station prior to the Sept. 19 event.
“Everyone loves runs and this is all about color, creativity, fun and expressing yourself, so dancing and being covered in color is pretty artsy to me,” Lipson said. “I hope people had fun. We have been under so much pressure lately, so hopefully it was a moment as a family or a group of friends to just get out and have some fun. Also, to raise awareness about the Arts Council – it has been a really hard year for the nonprofit world.”
As people signed in prior to the race, most wore white T-shirts from the Hopewell Valley Arts Council. Those who participated made their way through the course that covered them with color.
“What brought me out here was my daughter. I love running and want to make sure she has the gift of health and fun,” said Monica Mesa, Pennington resident and course participant. “I love all the colors, fun, celebration, people and music for this event. I loved that the community came together and that this was about the arts. I will participate going forward and make sure my husband and other daughter come, too.”
The walkers and runners in separate group waves during the course passed through five color blast stations volunteers color blasted with food-grade powdered dye.
The colors included blue, orange, pink and green, which covered adults and children’s T-shirts, shorts, hair and leggings as they completed through the course.
“My wife signed us up impromptu and the kids wanted to come out, too. The course was a lot of fun and never did something like this before,” said Mark Hinchliffe, one of the participants in the Color Fun Run & Walk. “To go through the colors and see the kids and just the joy it was really, really nice. Getting blasted with the colors was a lot better than I thought it would be. It was actually like running through a cloud and was really fun and a great experience.”
At the finish of the course for all those participating a celebration took place which was kicked off by a short dance performance by The Pennington Studio for Dance.
The children danced in a sectioned off area in the grass where the finish line for the course was marked, and other amenities were located such as a selfie area, a place to blow off the powder with a leaf blower, and Italian ice desserts.
“I have a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old who found out about this through their close friend and got me out here. The course was fine when I was walking. Then, my 7-year-old decided she wanted to sprint the entire time, so when I did not see her I had to catch up and I did,” said Marcel Momplaisir, a Pennington resident and course participant. “This is a fantastic event and would love to see this event continue. I would like to see this be something that is even two times a summer.”
As a dance party began in the area at the finish line that was near the pathway to the Hopewell Valley Sept. 11 and Emergency Services Memorial, children and adults would throw in the air open color packet bags that they were given to them when they finished the race to cap off the day event.
“We heard that there was a nice event. My wife used to work in global health and she has actually been to the Holi events, so we wanted to share that with my nephews and family,” said David McAdams, who was visiting his in-laws and is originally from Seattle. “Going through the course was very fun and I had to catch up with a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old and it was quite an experience. The colors were terrific. I had to make sure I closed my mouth, but after a year through COVID-19. it is nice to be out.”