November 20, 2019

Area Thanksgiving Activities Include Turkey Trots and Nature Walks

By Anne Levin

For many people, Thanksgiving signifies the unofficial beginning of the overeating season. But there are opportunities, in Princeton and the surrounding area, to get some significant exercise before digging in to the sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

“Turkey Trots” are among the activities taking place during the holiday, which starts with early morning races on Thanksgiving Day, November 28 and ends with the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree in Palmer Square on Friday evening, November 29. In between, there are nature walks, a football game, a worship service, and more.

According to, the first Turkey Trot race took place in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1896, with six competitors. Today, the races held all over the country draw hordes of runners and walkers, making it the most popular day of the year to run a race. Nearly all raise funds for charity.

Princeton has the Trinity Turkey Trot, which starts at 8:30 a.m. at Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street, ending back at the church after winding through town. Participants are asked to bring a canned good to donate. Age groups range from 9 and under to 70 and over. This is a family-friendly event, so running strollers are allowed. But leave the dogs, skates, bikes, and scooters at home. The fee is $40. Visit for information.

The Seventh Annual Mercer County Turkey Trot is a 5K and one-mile walk in Mercer County Park, starting at 8:30 a.m. in the west picnic area. The cost is $33-$38. For more information, visit Additionally, there is the Hopewell Valley 5K Turkey Trot, from 9-10:30 a.m. starting at 424 Federal City Road in Mercer Meadows. The race day fee of $28 is lowered to $25 with the donation of two canned good for a local food pantry. Visit

The Two Town Turkey Trot is a 5K run and one-mile “health walk” that starts at 8 a.m. at Lambertville Station restaurant, 11 Bridge Street, and goes across the bridge to New Hope, Pa., and back. Admission is $35 in advance online, and $45 the day of the tour. Visit

Walking doesn’t have to be competitive. Those who prefer a slower pace and want to be outdoors can take part in a Thanksgiving Day Nature Walk being held by Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands at the Mapleton Preserve, starting at 10 a.m. The theme of the walk is “Look Closely,” with a focus on often overlooked natural settings. Participation is free. Call (609) 683-0483 to register.

Friends of Princeton Open Space hosts OptOutside on Friday, November 29 from 2-4 p.m. at Mountain Lakes Preserve. Anyone who would rather spend “Black Friday” out in nature instead of in the mall is invited to attend. A nature-themed art activity, music, cider, and snacks will be at Mountain Lakes House, and trail maps will be available for walks and hikes before or after the celebration. All ages are welcome and admission is free. The event will be held rain or shine. Register at

The annual Princeton Gentlemen’s Society Foundation football game is held at Marquand Park on Thanksgiving Day, starting at 10 a.m. This is the 25th annual “Turkey Bowl,” and it is held rain or shine. Attendance is open to anyone who wants to show up, and contributions to the organization’s charitable foundation are welcome.

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in Princeton without the Annual Community Thanksgiving Worship Service, held at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day at the Princeton University Chapel. All are welcome to this one-hour event, which is sponsored by the University’s Office of Religious Life and Princeton Clergy Association. Visit for details.

There are 32,000 lights on the giant spruce tree on The Green at Palmer Square, and they will be lit on Friday evening at 6 p.m. The Princeton High School Choir and the School of Rock will entertain starting at 5 p.m., leading up to the moment when the lights blaze on. All are welcome to the annual event. Visit for details.