Runners and their families and friends celebrated at the post-race festivities!

The rain held off and the sold out Wheeling Park District Day of the Dead Family 5K Run/Walk went off without a hitch on Sunday, October 24. Three hundred twenty-four runners, from the ages of three to 83, registered to participate. Face painting and stretching exercises were offered to those queued at the starting line. At 8:00 am, the runners took off through picturesque Heritage Park and the streets of Wheeling enjoying the festive atmosphere of music and entertainment along the course. Emcee Jerry Riles, host and executive producer of “The Rewind Sports: 60”, worked the stage and kept the crowd energized and engaged. Rise n Dine Café in Wheeling provided a variety of fruits, energy bars and bottled water at the finish-line refreshment table.

The awards ceremony for the professionally chip-timed race took place a little after 9:00 am at the Performance Pavilion. Beautifully etched plaques were presented to men and women first-place overall (any age) winners and men and women first-place finishers in all 10 age categories, ranging from 4 years and under to 80+ years. The top finisher was 44-year-old Dan Palmer with a time of 19:18.1 (6:14/M); the top female finisher was 15-year-old Abi Peralta who came in at 25:30.5 (8.14/M). To view more race results, go to https://dayofthedead5k.run/race-results/

The community braved the chilly, early-morning temperatures to cheer on the runners and enjoy the post-race celebration featuring live music, dance performances, refreshments and food. Popular Wheeling restaurants, including Mia’s Cantina and El Famous Burrito, sold tamales, tacos, champurrado and other delights.

The entertainment line-up featured singer Elizeth Hernandez, Tlaxcala Performance Dancers – Arreola Family, traditional Mexican songs by Jose Solano, Aztec Dancers, Mariachi Monumental de Mexico and Chinelos Wheeling, all in colorful costumes. The event was made possible through the generous sponsorships of Alianza Hispana, State Farm, Baird & Warner, Kolssak Funeral Home, Garden Fresh Market, State Senator Julie Morrison and Align Wellness Center.

Heritage Park is located at 109 Community Boulevard in Wheeling.