PRINCETON — Run for the Fallen is headed to Princeton this Saturday, and more plans are underway to help give a warm welcome to the active duty military and civilian members running across country to pay tribute to those who have died during the War on Terror.
The runners began their journey on April 7 at Fort Irwin in California, and plan to finish the trek on Sunday, Aug. 5, in Arlington National Cemetery.
Along the 6,100-mile journey, the runners stop at every one-mile interval to reflect and remember fallen service members.
This year, the journey will make its way through Princeton on Route 6. It was also decided that the city would be designated as a resting point for the runners.
With this in mind, local veteran Tom Root, who is also head of the Veterans Community Outreach program through the Bureau County Sheriff’s Department, has worked diligently to put together a weekend-long schedule to provide meals and entertainment for the runners during their stay in Princeton, which will be from Saturday evening until Monday morning.
Root’s hope is that the runners feel welcomed by the city, and that residents will come out and meet them during public gatherings throughout the weekend.
The runners will be coming in on Route 6, and before making their way to Princeton, they will pass by the Psycho Silo Saloon in Langley, between Sheffield and Wyanet.
Root has encouraged business owners to display large flags by the road, and patrons of the business will also line the street, clap and cheer as the runners go by.
Escort vehicles will then meet the runners at Wyaton Hills Golf Course, west of Princeton, around 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and they will lead the way into the city.
Once in town, the group will make its way to Soldiers and Sailors Park, where a public ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. The gathering will consist of the runners, support personnel and Gold Star families — both local and from outside the area.
Root said this will be “an incredible” event, where the runners will call out the names of fallen soldiers and deliver a short tribute to the Gold Star families, friends, comrades and patriots. An Honor Guard and other local veterans will be present, as well as city officials.
After the ceremony, the runners will proceed to the Princeton Elks Lodge for a private dinner, and later to their lodging destination in Princeton.
On Sunday, the American Legion will provide the runners a pancake and sausage breakfast. For lunch, they will be transported back to Psycho Silo, and Root said the public is welcome to come out and meet the runners and join them for food, music and relaxation.
For dinner, the city of Princeton will provide a meal at the Bureau County Metro Center from 5:30 to 8 p.m. for the runners. A cash bar will also be available. Root said this would also be a great time to come out and meet the runners.
On Monday morning, Root said the group will be sent on their way toward Marseilles, and arrangements are being made to ensure they receive a breakfast sandwich and juice before leaving Princeton.
Root said there are many businesses and organizations that have come together to welcome the runners during their stay. Local businesses have offered to sponsor meals and transportation. Princeton Police, Bureau County Sheriff’s deputies and Illinois State Police have offered to assist with traffic control, and local organizations have offered to clean vehicles that travel with the runners, do laundry for the group, and even decorate the Princeton Elks Lodge a patriotic theme to ensure their stay is even more welcoming.
For more information on the run or to be a sponsor or make a donation, visit www.runforthefallen.org.