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  • Adam Ray

Santa Rosa Turkey Trot - A Great Beginning

Scena Performance has just wrapped up our first Santa Rosa Turkey Trot. This was an idea that came to us kind of last minute really. We were looking forward to having Thanksgiving to ourselves after 6 years of the Healdsburg Turkey Trot. But Santa Rosa just proved too appealing.


First of all we got a lot of encouragement locally. At the end of October, just more than a month before the race (over a glass of wine) I thought about this race, which was something Orhan at Santa Rosa Marathon and I had talked about a few years ago. So, I poked around and put in a permit application with the City. It seemed very last minute to approach a new city.

This was a Friday evening.

First thing Monday morning, I received a flurry of emails describing how the Turkey Trot could happen. It's not always the case that a city tells you what to do in such a direct and encouraging way and that meant a lot. I really expected to be told that this was too soon or just a bad idea but Tara with the City both called me and had already programmed my number into her phone.

Next, the Chamber of Commerce was also immediately encouraging. I had known a little about Visit Santa Rosa and kind of knew Kim Link there through some mutual friends. So, same thing here. Visit Santa Rosa: immediately encouraging. I also came to know Downtown Santa Rosa, the organization that promotes activity in the downtown area to support businesses there and to elevate the sense of community. Cadance Allinson, the ED of Downtown Santa Rosa tried to convince me the race should be downtown even after I'd already made the decision.

Within a few days, I'd gone from Friday evening hunch to a permitted -- or at least permit-able -- even in the Old Courthouse Square, with folks who wanted to help.

And everything built from there. Bellwether Farms backed the race, sight unseen because the Callahan family has accepted my weird ideas for a long time. Kenny at Heart and Sole immediately responded to a cold email from me and offered to help the race. Redwood Empire Food Bank joined quickly as our cause. Russian River Brewery shortly thereafter agreed to support Redwood Empire Food Bank with a donation, which is one of the ways we accept 'sponsors.' Our design and advertising teams flew into action and we were off! Nothing makes you feel like you're involved in something real like a design from Robert Gagnon.

Registration was open.

The build in signups was slow, kind of nail-bitingly so. But new things take a while to filter through a community, even with the best promotional and adversing plans. By the time is all was over, we'd registered over 675 people -- about 425 families. About 25% gave to Redwood Empire. It was a good Thanksgiving and a great day with music and running and snacks.

Events like Santa Rosa Turkey Trot can become a very positive flashpoint for community identity. A friend of mine said afterwards that she was proud to be part of it -- proud of what Scena had done and proud to be from Santa Rosa. So if we've only done that, we've succeeded.

But we're going to do a lot more ;-)

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