Though she was only 5 years old, the pint-sized child swore she was unafraid when she looked down from a 25-foot-high tower to the ground — and toward a giant inflatable meant to catch her.
But Ava Tartt turned around for a moment and left, descending the stairs leading to the stunt dive, the newest and possibly the biggest attraction at Saturday’s Johnson-Witkemper Insurance Finish on Fourth post-race party.
Then she quickly returned to the ledge. And as the crowd below began chanting “Go! Go! Go!” Tartt leaped.
And, as a fierce wind blew, she floated like the bright pink butterfly painted all over her face.
“I can’t believe she did it,” said a chuckling Pamela Tartt, her mom.
Yes, even the jumpers garnered cheers on Mill Race Marathon race day, where the finish line marked only the start of the fun and camaraderie amid a festive — and sometimes emotional — downtown along Washington Street.
Spectator Ann Jones mentioned that seeing youngsters excitedly leap from the curb to sprint the final few blocks to the finish with a race-running parent gets to her.
“I cry,” Jones said.
Steve Leach, owner of The Garage Pub and Grill downtown, worked with Kurt Schwarze, owner of downtown’s 4th Street Bar & Grill, organized the food-music-and-games gathering for the third straight year.
“It’s been awesome,” Leach said. “The weather has been perfect. And look at this turnout.”
All around him along Washington Street, people bought food ranging from barbecue to Caribbean. They listened to classic and contemporary rock ranging from The Jackson Way to Brown 25. The Jackson Way appropriately played the classic hit “Ain’t No Sunshine” early in the event under overcast skies.
Yet, that hardly seemed to dampen enthusiasm. Mark Kelly was among those who thought the day unfolded superbly.
“I like to see all the people and see the whole community come downtown,” Kelly said. “This is entertaining if you’re a runner and if you’re not a runner.”
Megan Kraszeski stood near Eighth and Washington streets just before many finished the half marathon to cheer for friend Sarah Weaver. Kraszeski, a runner herself, knows that encouragement matters.
“You’ve got to have the right mindset to push through the pain,” Kraszeski said.
Four people were winners in the SIHO 5K Bicycle Giveaway at the Johnson-Witkemper Insurance Finish On Fourth post-race party.
- Anya Carroll
- William Carter
- Jose Loyo Hernandez
- Whitney Rader