Turkey setup at the Morris house.jpg

A series of inflatable turkeys promoting MUST Ministries’ annual Gobble Jog has been installed around Marietta.

Mariettans are advised they need not fear a series of oversized avians stalking the city’s streets — the overstuffed creatures are little more than holiday cheerleaders.

As in years past, the inflatable turkeys have been installed by MUST Ministries as part of the pageantry of the 2021 MDJ Gobble Jog. The difference this year is that the turkeys have now officially joined their host families in a first-of-its-kind adoption project.

Alexis Amaden, who organized the first annual Gobble Jog 19 years ago, said MUST usually drops off the turkeys at houses along the race route, helps install them, and then retrieves them afterward. The idea to have families adopt the turkeys makes things a bit easier for race organizers, she admitted, but also has stirred up excitement for the first in-person race since 2019.

“It’s been a huge success,” Amaden said. “If you’ve been up and down Cherokee Street, it’s just been a lot of fun … it’s amazing when you drive around at Halloween, how much people decorate for that. So we’ve just got to keep up with decorations, and draw attention to the race.”

The 40 or so turkeys even come with adoption papers, at no cost to their new families (donations are accepted, but not required).

“We have a waitlist already for next year. One gentlemen I talked to was going to have his electrician install a plug outside,” Amaden added.

Whether the turkeys are the ones to thank or not, enthusiasm continues to build for the event after participants could only run a virtual race last year. MUST spokeswoman Katy Ruth Camp said as of Tuesday, nearly 8,500 runners had registered for the race and that MUST was confident it would end up with around 10,000.

Runners can pick up their Gobble Jog T-shirts Wednesday at the Cobb County Civic Center, an event unto itself featuring inflatable bounce houses, a food truck, sponsor booths and Colonel MUSTard, the race’s turkey mascot.

MUST Ministries, which will celebrate its 50th birthday during the Gobble Jog, runs homeless shelters and food pantries around Cobb, and has seen demand for its services surge since the beginning of the pandemic.

The first race, a timed 10K, will begin at 7:30 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, with subsequent races starting at the following times:

♦ 8:45 a.m. — 1K untimed

♦ 9:00 a.m. — 5K timed

♦ 9:05 a.m. — 5K untimed

♦ 10:30 a.m. — Tot Trot

Spectators can watch the races begin and end on Marietta Square, as well as along the route, which travels along Cherokee and Church streets in Marietta.

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