PJ Media

Cincinnati's Thanksgiving Day 'Occupation'

Thanksgiving morning, before the Occupy movement’s promised attempt to disrupt Black Friday at certain retailers, a different group with their own style of “occupying” convened in downtown Cincinnati.

These “occupiers” had quite ambitious goals. Their intent was to “occupy” not only Cincinnati, but also Newport and Covington, Kentucky, across the Ohio River, ultimately surrounding a six-mile perimeter. This “occupation,” in the sense of legally taking up space as opposed to how the Occupy Wall Street crowd and its offshoots have chosen to “occupy” — namely by seizing control of property which isn’t theirs and daring authorities to do something about it — is known to locals as Cincinnati’s Thanksgiving Day Race.

A nearly non-stop tradition since 1908, the Thanksgiving Day Race’s “occupation” is so superior in so many ways to the pathetic crowd which calls itself “Occupy Cincinnati,” it’s hard to know where to start.

Since early October, after the previous month’s poorly populated Day of Rage in New York and several other cities “somehow” grew into what became the nationwide Occupy movement, Occupy Cincinnati’s ragtag bunch of rank amateurs has been attempting to … well, I’m not sure anyone has a good idea of what they’re doing or what they want. Despite their minuscule numbers, reporters at the Cincinnati Enquirer have filed dozens of stories — perhaps over 100 — since the habitually illegal operation began.

Over 50 days in, this tiny group of babbling grievance-mongers obsessed with their own self-importance and the enabling local press continue to believe that an “occupation” should be considered noteworthy if it places a barely noticeable number of people inside a downtown park so small you can almost spit across its width with the wind at your back. In mid-November, they could only convene a paltry 200 people for a pep talk from supposed civil-rights star Jesse Jackson, who insults the memory of his mentor the Reverend Martin Luther King on a nearly daily basis. Duly “inspired,” only fifteen of them had sufficient courage of their convictions to stay after midnight to get arrested for after-hours criminal trespassing.

All those involved in Occupy Cincinnati absolutely have to do is show up and hang around. By contrast, it takes a great deal of effort to pull off a large-scale “occupation” like the Thanksgiving Day Race. As one would expect, its planning begins many months in advance. Almost every movement supporter in the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana area is aware of the annual event; many activists (i.e., runners and walkers) typically invite out-of-town friends and relatives to participate.

The majority of those involved in the Thanksgiving Day “occupation” spend much of the year leading up to it getting ready, simulating the routines required to carry out their respective roles by practicing, organizing, or volunteering. Instead of forcing failed confrontations with the police, the group’s management and assembly of volunteers work with law enforcement well before race day in the three cities to guarantee that participants’ “occupation” of the streets will be honored, and ensure that appropriate nourishment and liquids will be available when and where needed. They also negotiate with the Cincinnati Bengals to make its stadium’s restroom facilities available, and with the City of Newport to place portable toilets there.

Unlike Occupy Cincinnati, whose participants have been barely coherent, Thanksgiving Day Race “occupiers” clearly understand why they are there and what they intend to accomplish. Each participant has his or her own goal or goals for the morning. Quite a few get involved in the name of (gasp!) competition. Many are there to benchmark their level of physical fitness. Still others wish to continue personal or family Thanksgiving Day traditions. Others come to renew acquaintances with old friends.

This year’s Thanksgiving Day “occupation” officially began at the customary time of 9 a.m. In less than 15 minutes, following a carefully laid-out route, lead “occupiers” — er, runners — made their way into Newport, with thousands of others trailing. Five minutes later, the advance group was in Covington. In just over a half-hour, participants completely encircled the area. Meanwhile the cops, instead of worrying about how to remove a group of slovenly leftists without offending their precious sensibilities, worked to secure the “occupied” area from motorists who might otherwise have intruded. The race’s male and female winners were University of Cincinnati student Eric Finan and first-year participant Kara Storage, who led a massive procession of about 16,000 runners and walkers representing both the area’s 99% and its 1% over the event’s 10-kilometer course.

Instead of draining cities’ coffers and straining the community’s goodwill, proceeds from the Thanksgiving Day Race’s entrance fees and clothing purchases will fund donations to a dozen charities. Additionally, runners shed thousands of coats and other outerwear items which will be given to Goodwill. Over twenty corporate sponsors (heaven forbid!) provided financial and other help to control the event’s costs, which included liability insurance.

If there were any arrests at the Thanksgiving Day Race, I’m not aware of them. I can also say with great confidence that there were no reported rapes, sexual assaults or drug deals; that women, children, and the elderly felt safe; and that merchants along the “occupied” route experienced no vandalism or other mayhem. Unlike Occupy Cincinnati, from which two dumpsters full of “disgusting” trash were hauled away at taxpayer expense after only its first two weeks, Thanksgiving Day Race volunteers completely cleaned up the course and other affected areas.

As impressive as it all was, the Enquirer and local television appropriately limited coverage of the Thanksgiving Day “occupation” to reports about the winners and several human interest stories. As to Occupy Cincinnati, the important question — beyond highlighting the crimes they commit, the incivility they sanction, and the support they are receiving from certain political elitists, including our president — is why anyone in the press should give a flying fig about or see any lasting significance in their whiny, juvenile enterprise.