Bunny Palooza! races, chili cook-off to raise funds for QRCF

Coastal Point • Submitted : The crew from Smitty McGee’s at last year’s Bunny Palooza!Coastal Point • Submitted : The crew from Smitty McGee’s at last year’s Bunny Palooza!The person who can hop (or run or walk) to the finish line faster than all the other bunnies at the Bunny Palooza 10K/5K, will go home with an award, and even those who aren’t the speediest rabbit at the Saturday, April 15, event will be able to hunt up some fun and funds for a local cause.

Bunny Palooza is now in its fifth year as a community event and fundraiser for the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation’s scholarship fund and grant programs.

“We were just looking for something new,” said QRCF President Brigit Taylor, following years of running golf tournaments to raise funds for the organization.

“Running and walking and community events seemed to be the trend,” Taylor said. So, the 10K run and 6K run/walk were chosen as the QRCF’s new fundraiser. Next, the QRCF set about finding a time for its new event that wouldn’t conflict with other community events.

Easter weekend seemed to be a good time, since families are often together at the beach and the weather is mild, Taylor said. Plus, there’s the fun of dressing to match the Bunny Palooza theme — which is kind of a kitschy version of an Easter parade.

“People dress in bunny ears and tutus and all kinds of stuff,” Taylor said.

Local singer and student Paige Stevenson will kick off the event by singing the national anthem, Taylor said.

“It has become a very family-friendly event,” she said, with Tidepool Toys donating large stuffed animals for top finishers. And the runners and walkers aren’t the only competitors this year, with 10 area restaurants competing for bragging rights in a post-race chili cook-off, after four judges taste-test all the offerings. Beer will be available for those 21 or older, provided by NKS Distributors.

The holiday theme and after-race activities give the event a “festival-like atmosphere,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of people tell us this is a race they wouldn’t miss,” she said.

She described the course itself as fast and flat, ideal for runners of all skill levels. The race will be chip-timed by Races2Run and Nova, with real-time results posted on large-screen monitors. Finishers will receive medals, and everyone who registered by April 5 was guaranteed a commemorative race shirt.

After the race, the fun will continue on “Palooza Plaza” with music by C.K. the D.J., as well as “other surprises,” Taylor said.

The 10K begins at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K begins at 9:30 a.m. Both races begin at Parkwood Avenue and Atlantic Avenue in downtown Bethany Beach and end on the boardwalk. Awards will be given to overall, masters and age-group winners, with special top-finisher awards provided by Tidepool Toys.

With the Easter weekend falling late this year, Taylor said she is hopeful for good race weather.

“The success of the whole event is totally dependent on the weather,” she said, with race participation ranging in its first four years between 500 and 1,000 participants.

Proceeds from Bunny Palooza benefit individuals, groups, clubs and organizations in the QRCF service area. Over the past 15 years, the QRCF has awarded more than $600,000 to such groups, Taylor said.

Registration costs $40 for the 10K and $30 for the 5K; online registration ended April 12, and for those who pre-registered, race packets can be picked up at Mango’s restaurant on the boardwalk in Bethany Beach from noon to 4 p.m. on April 14. Onsite registration the day of the event will be available as long as the races have not sold out.

Volunteers are needed to help with water stops and other aspects of the races. Students looking for community service opportunities are welcome, Taylor said. For more information, call the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation at (302) 537-QRCF (7723) or visit Bunnypalooza.com.