Large events are hard to organize even on a good day, but they become even more difficult to manage when bad weather and ongoing COVID restrictions are thrown into the mix. However, none of these factors were able to stop the organizers at St Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy (St. Stan’s) in Greenpoint from ushering in the successful return of the Get to the Point 5K Run this past Sunday.
Now in its 27th year, the Get to the Point run includes kids dashes, a 5K run/walk for adults, and a post race party. The event consistently attracts close to 300 people, and this year was no different. Despite taking last year off because of the pandemic, old runners, new runners, and local families all returned to St. Stan’s for the school’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time, almost three decades,” said Frank Carbone, President of St. Stan’s Catholic Academy. “We’ve had to take a year off here and there since our first race in 1992, but that hasn’t stopped us. Putting it together is time consuming, but we missed it when the race didn’t happen and are happy to be bringing it back.”
Carbone and his fellow organizers faced a number of challenges when putting together this year’s race. Weather forecasts predicted rain during the run, and COVID-restrictions from the City and Diocese prevented the school from hosting a full scale after-party inside its cafeteria. Yet with some careful planning and well placed tents, Carbone and company were able to host all the race activities outside in spite of some on and off showers.
“It’s like preparing for a wedding every year,” Carbone joked, “but it’s a great fundraiser for the academy. It also really serves to bring back and unite the whole Greenpoint and Williamsburg area. People share memories from back in the 90s and 2000s, and you realize that we’ve been doing this for a long time.”
He continued: “We’ve got people who ran the race as kids who remind me that I gave them a medal when they were five years old. And now I’m handing their kids medals! Taking a year off puts things even more into perspective, and we saw just how important the race is. People really did miss it.”
Carbone is far from the only person who returns to the neighborhood annually for race day. Runners such as Williamsburg local Herbie Medina make a point of lacing up their sneakers every year for the hometown run.
“I ran the race way back when they had it for the first time,” Medina said. “We bring runners from all throughout the neighborhood and City because they know this is a good race. It’s great for the community, especially all the kids.”
Partner organizations throughout North Brooklyn also return to the race each year. Members of St. Nicks Alliance, a nonprofit that assists low and moderate income residents in the area, hand out water at stations throughout the run’s route.
“We are really thrilled and excited to be back and help with fundraising,” said Jose Leon from St. Nicks Alliance. “For the past ten years we’ve been helping out and we love seeing the runners come out and the community come together.”
The race day festivities began with the children’s dashes, which included heats for kids ages 2 to 12. The top runners from each age group received medals, and all the children present were able to enjoy music from a DJ, balloons from a clown, and fresh ice cream after their races.
The dashes were then followed by the main event, the 5K run and walk, which loops around from Driggs Avenue to Manhattan Avenue and then back. Officers from the 94th Precinct assisted by closing down streets to traffic, and participating runners powered through the race in spite of the rain.
After the running was through, everyone was encouraged to enjoy burgers and other treats in the St. Stan’s parking lot. Despite the rain and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, it felt just like old times for the runners, organizers, and families at St. Stan’s.
“I think the consistency of this race is very cool,” Carbone said. “You have people who come back religiously and register to run no matter what. But then we also have people who may have moved to Jersey or Staten Island and might take a year off, but then end up coming back some Columbus Day Weekend.”
“Sure the neighborhood has changed a lot,” he added, “but we still have such a strong base. And the beautiful thing is that we always get new people, who might have seen the no parking signs and are wondering what’s going on. It showcases our school, but it also showcases the neighborhood. It’s so satisfying to organize every year.”