BOSTON — This Thomas County town’s Mini-Marathon and Festival debuted four decades ago this month in 1979.
The village will be painted ruby red in celebration of the 40th annual event on Friday, Oct. 25, and Saturday, Oct. 26.
The inaugural event was organized by a fledgling Boston Development Association under the leadership of Rick Fournier, then a local attorney, who had a law office in Boston.
“The association’s goals were to beautify the city, revitalize the downtown district, attract industry to Boston and motivate all citizens to become involved,” said Amanda Maxwell, co-chairman of this year’s event.
“With the assistance of Bobby Jackson, who was serving as postmaster, Jamie Murphy, who was the mayor, Mary Jean (Hanratty) Heide, who was city clerk, and many others, the first run and festival was a community and family event,” Maxwell said.
Peggy and Hank Russell, Eddy and Emily Ryan, Barbara and Wayne Adams and Margaret and Oscar Cook were among the supporters taking care of advertising and publicity, security and aides on the route and coordinating arts and crafts. The first run had more than 100 runners.
Maxwell said that in 1982, the 20th Century Club took the leadership role, and Mary Maxwell and many others were instrumental in perpetuating the race and festival.
In 1989, the Boston Community Club organized with a goal of providing a civic organization open to the entire community and to continue the mini-marathon and festival.
Linda and Tyrone Hopper were among those actively seeking to ensure the event was on schedule, and Loyd Cline organized the race/walk for many years, followed by Jimmy and Betty Hoskins. Brad Johnson spearheads the event today.
“With the cooperation of the City of Boston, many citizens and volunteers, the festival continues to grow and enjoy a large following, drawing runners/walkers from across the South,” Maxwell said.
Forty years after that weekend in 1979, the run/walk event remains the signature feature of the festival produced by the Boston Community Club, with Ricard Reynolds as president.
In addition to Maxwell, Christine Welsh and Hannah Evans co-chair the 40th annual event.
More information is available at www.bostonga.com/events. Follow prompts for mini-marathon to see details and registration for events.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820