Crowds fill Coatesville for event-packed weekend

Tree-lighting, race, parade attract spectators, participants

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

Maasai Harris, 9, from Caln Elementary School, shows off his form during the Festive 5K. Photo by Duane Plank

Holiday magic will continue in Coatesville after an activity-filled weekend that included the city tree-lighting, a championship football win, a successful race fund-raiser, a festive parade, and a visit from Santa.

Marie Hess, who heads the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, said turnout for the tree-lighting  on Friday night was lower than usual but with good reason:  Many football fans traveled to Downingtown to watch the Red Raiders win the AAAA District 1 Championship.

“We had a good crowd,” said Hess, adding that people were cheering on the football team from afar. The tree-lighting was followed by a rousing performance by the Coatesville Campus Gospel Choir.

Race winner Kyle Dawson of Coatesville is flanked by Jennifer McNeil, a Brandywine Health Foundation board member, and Harry Lewis, board president. Photo by Duane Plank

By 5 a.m. Saturday, a volunteer crew began readying the streets for the Brandywine Health Foundation’s Third Annual Festive 5K Run and One-Mile Fun Walk. Coatesville Police Officer Rodger Ollis, a member of the organization committee who also served as course navigator, said he saw an increase in participants, particularly young people. His vantage point:  a traffic safety vehicle that stayed about a half-block in front of the lead runners.

“I definitely didn’t get as tired as they did,” joked Ollis, whose oldest son and daughter ran in the race. “It was great to see so many new faces. ” One of them was Stephen Johnson, who will be sworn in Dec. 10 as Coatesville’s next police chief.

David Lapp, chairman of the Festive 5K volunteer committee, said a new Youth Run sponsor enabled the committee to waive the fee for participants 17 and under, a change that contributed to more than 500 runners and walkers.

“The committee goal was to produce a healthy community event that brought together residents as well as visitors into downtown Coatesville,” Lapp said. “With numerous, generous sponsors, countless in-kind donations to our post-race festivities from local businesses, over 100 caring volunteers, and over $44,000 in revenue, we believe we achieved that goal and more.”


With spectators lining both sides of the street, the 2012 Coatesville Christmas Parade entertained crowds on Saturday. Photo by Marie Hess

Medals were handed out in eight divisions ranging from 11 and under to 70 and over.   Medals and cash prizes were given to the overall first-, second-, and third-place male and females. Kyle Dawson, 24, a former CASH cross-country standout, finished first in the male division with a time of 15:17, just before his twin brother Owen, another acclaimed distance runner who finished second with a time of 15:27. Kimberly Cary, 27, of Malvern finished first in the female division with a time of 19:31 making her the “woman to beat” in 2013 at the 4th Annual Festive 5K Run/Walk next December.

Dawson and Cary were awarded special trophies designed with steel donated by ArcelorMittal.  The top fund-raising award went to Latifa Raheem, who raised over $500 in donations and  Community Spirit Awards were presented to the Chester County Futures team, which  had 55 team members, and the Caln Elementary Cross Country team with over 65  members.

Donations, which benefit the Coatesville Youth Initiative,  a multi-faceted teen outreach program, will remain open until Dec. 8. Visit

Hess, who marched in the Christmas Parade with the costumed winners of the Halloween Parade, said the route – an hour-and-a-half procession from Strode to 11th Avenue – was lined with spectators. “It was really fun to see so many people out,” she said, adding that the nice weather encouraged participation.

For those who missed Santa’s visit after the parade, more opportunities are available, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Coatesville. For a $10 cost, Santa will pose for photos the next three Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the gazebo, Second Avenue and East Lincoln Highway.




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