WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)– It’s a Downtown Wilkes-Barre tradition that spans more than three decades and it’s a great way to start off America’s birthday.
Kicking off the Fourth of July is what most simply refer to as ‘Bernie’s Run.’ The Bernie Hargadon race honors the late YMCA director. It also raises money for programs at all local Y’s. The race begins by the Susquehanna River, with hundreds of runners and walkers making their way around three miles of downtown.
Leo Kaskel, who lives in Wilkes-Barre, knows these streets well.
“I know the history of the race. It’s a great cause and if you can’t run it, you should walk it,” said Kaskel. “It’s a fun time and you couldn’t ask for a better way to start you holiday than a little workout.”
He was sporting some jokingly patriotic gear with a t-shirt that said ‘Fireworks Director–(If I run, you run.)’
“I always pick a different t-shirt each year–trying to get somebody to smile, laugh and enjoy this special day,” he said.
Kaskel’s got the entire day planned out from the morning run to the evening fireworks.
“I’m going to have my family over and I’m going to grill like every good American.”
The ‘fireworks director’ came in with a respectable time in the race. One group came in a bit later, but with a cause.
Jenny Borton runs for Team Red, White and Blue.
“RWB is a veteran running group. Our mission is to get veterans out into the community,” said Borton. “We want to get them active, out doing stuff and we’re a small group right now but we are looking to expand. Team RWB is all over the country.”
Showing their support, Borton and company ran with two large American flags.
“It takes a lot of practice,” she added. “Normally, all the runs around here, we carry the flag so we have a lot of practice with it. We change through our group a little bit. We all get a chance with the flag. We change arms, we get through the pain and we do what we have to do to carry the flag.”
While supporting veteran’s, nationwide–Borton also holds this area and race close.
“So I actually work for the YMCA in Scranton. This is a big deal for me,” she said. “This is helping to raise funds for all the YMCA’s around here. It’s a non-profit organization so I think stuff like this is really beneficial to our y’s. I think the y is a great place, so any kind of support is fantastic.”
Last year’s overall winner David Haines of Moscow took home first place again this year, but all can agree–everyone who is impacted by the YMCA and its many programs are the real winners this Independence Day.