By LAUREN BENOIT
Calling all ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and runners? All were in attendance at this year’s seventh annual FOOGI Haunt Jaunt 5k run. This annual run took place on Oct. 28, 2012, despite the cold and rainy weather, there was a large turnout.
Friends of Oak Grove Inc. hosted the Haunt Jaunt for the past six years. The money that is raised is donated to many different causes that help the city of Malden grow. This year, the majority of the funds is donated to the new Malden Teen Enrichment Center. The MTEC is predicted to keep Malden teens off of the streets, and promote a healthy fun environment around the city.
FOOGI is a non-profit organization founded in 2006 by residents of Malden who wanted to build a stronger community. Through activities, fundraisers, and several events, this organization raises money and donates it to the development of the city. Ever since their establishment, the FOOGI have accomplished many tasks which has moved the city of Malden forward. Examples include: installing picnic tables in Patchell Park, decorating the trash bins, a Christmas tree lighting, and the Haunt Jaunt. Over the years, the FOOGI crew have recognized that this organization had brought together many residents that all had the same goal in mind: to beautify the city. They strongly believe that this kind of community will reduce the vandalism and crime rates.
What makes the Haunt Jaunt unique, is that it is one of the few races that require contestants to be decked out in Halloween attire. Every costume imaginable was represented, and some contestants got very creative. Last year, Mayor Gary Christenson wore a suit jacket, complemented with shorts, as he was “Running for Mayor”. This year he ran as “The Grand Opening”, which also included a suit, decorated with a ribbon, scissors, and an authentic citation. The Mayor was heavily protected, as his right hand man, Teddy Louis Jacques, dressed as a secret service agent.
Moments before the start of the race, the Core Cardio Fitness group got the crowd energized and warmed up for the run with Zumba. There were also giveaways from the radio station WROR. Hallmark Health also contributed to the event’s success by providing healthy snacks, water, and also giving away some gifts.
Sticking to the tradition, the Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy started the race with a bang. The race both begins and ends at the Oak Grove Community Center. Then, as for the rest of the 5k loop, the runners circle the Forestdale Cemetery. Upon reaching the finish line, runners and walkers are greeted with cheering crowds, upbeat music, and awards.
Every year a number of awards are given out at the race. Awards go out to the one wearing the best costume, and the first place winners of each age category. Seventeen year old Patrick Moran from Melrose, MA was the first male runner to finish the race with a final time of 19:28; and twenty-seven year old Linnea Laverty was the first female to finish with a final time of 21:33.
Volunteers from many different groups all come and donate their time to the Haunt Jaunt. Coming for the second year in a row, some of Malden High School’s Cross Country members are excited to donate their time, and running advice to the cause. This year the Girl Scouts also volunteered their time. The girls collected many non-perishable food items in their “Trick or Treat so others can eat” event.
Overall, this year’s Haunt Jaunt was another success. The FOOGI members are looking forward to next years run, and hoping for it to be much more successful.