MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - Saturday, Oct. 21, was a perfect day for the 18th Annual PAL Cop Trot.
Firefighters hung the American Flag on the department's ladder truck, then raised it high. Just before 8:30 a.m. the word went out that it was time for the first race of the day -- for children six years of age and younger.
Mayor Paul Mirabelli, who is president of the PAL, welcomed everyone to the Cop Trot, and asked them to join in a chorus of "God Bless America." The crowd turned to the flag, took off their hats and put their hand on their heart, including the antsy children, chaperoned by enthusiastic parents, who were already at the starting line.
After an explanation of how he would start the race, the mayor said, "Ready. Set. Go!" and almost 20 children were off and running. They left the far end of the parking lot, followed the exit road, up to Central Avenue, down the street and back into the parking lot. A few young runners had a parent running with them, while others ran in the crowd, following a police officer on a bicycle. Everyone returned and ran through the official Cop Trot finish line. Everyone except one little girl.
She came back in a police car. The officer who brought her back said when she got to Central Avenue she refused to go into the street because "her mom said, 'I can't cross the street without her.'" Despite his best efforts, she insisted she wouldn't into the street, so he gave her a ride back. Mom, who was looking for her daughter to finish with the other runners, was relieved to see her pop out of the car.
Following the children's race, people began lining up for the 5K, for children older than six and adults, which began at 9 a.m.
The Cop Trot is the PAL primary fundraiser. It funds the following activities: Fall Soccer; Flag Football; Cheerleading; Travel Basketball; Open Gym; Breakfast with Santa; Skate Night; 8th Grade Pool Party; 4th of July Fireworks; Deerfield and GL Scholarship Awards and the Father's Day Charity Car & Bike Show.