Father Joe Carroll, president of Father Joe’s Villages, expects between 12,000 and 15,000 people to participate in the annual event that normally raises more than $250,000 annually for his charities.
The race is generally viewed as a pre-Thanksgiving meal workout by those running in it and most every participant looks forward to returning home to feast on turkey with all the fixings and maybe a piece of pie. But not Father Joe.
“This is what I do every year: I go home, and take a nap, and my Thanksgiving Day dinner is I cook a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup,” Carroll said.
Carroll said while he receives numerous offers to join people for their meals, he is exhausted and prefers to go home and take a nap.
November is Carroll’s busiest month. Not only does he need to continue to raise approximately $100,000 a day to stay in business but he will also be preparing for the race alongside the annual meal for the homeless served by his charity, and those in need the night before. That’s not to mention the even larger crowd that will return for food and medical care in the days following the race, when the other good-willed offerings are not open.
Carroll said he wakes each day at 6 a.m. and works until 6 p.m., unless he has commitments at night, which are commonplace. He has also been feeling the discomforts of diabetes recently and will have surgery on his foot this week.
But, that will not stop him from arriving in Balboa Park by 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day to talk with the television crews about the 5K. Nor will it stop him from blowing the horn at 8 a.m., signifying the start of the race after entertaining the crowd in the moments leading up it. He will then go on to emcee as participants cross the finish line, and he is always good for a few laughs during this portion.
Carroll’s Thanksgiving fun continues post race as he poses for pictures with runners and walkers and signs Father Joe bobble heads, which are given to those who raise or donate $100 or more. He helps clean up after the 5K between noon and 1 p.m. Then he returns home, which is right in the heart of Father Joe’s Villages where he prepares his soup and enjoys his rare down time.
Carroll, 69, wants the race to remain a fun and family-oriented tradition for years to come. He pointed out that it has become a tradition to wear Thanksgiving-themed costumes and he looks forward to seeing what the walkers and runners will sport this year.
Thanksgiving Day 5K Run/Walk
• Nov. 25, 8 a.m. near the Museum of Man in Balboa Park
• First 12,000 participants receive a long sleeve shirt
• Post race free continental breakfast
• Free beer garden with the Bill Magee Blues Band
• Wheelchairs and strollers are welcome
• Pets are welcome too, but no retractable dog leashes are allowed
• Dogs receive a free event bandana, while supplies last