It’s a rite of winter.
The organizers of the George Sheehan Classic ask the Red Bank Council to green-light its annual five-mile race and related activities downtown.
A councilmember notes complaints lodged by unnamed business owners about the disruption caused by the event, the main attraction of which is held early on a Saturday in June.
The council nods to those concerns but concludes, on balance, that the race is a boon to the town, and approves it.
The routine was as familiar to attendees of last night’s council meeting as the course run every day by a runner.
Councilwoman Grace Cangemi said she gets “a lot of blowback” from business owners who view the event as disruptive to traffic and don’t see any of the purported benefits of 2,5000 or so racers and hundreds more onlookers packing the downtown on a Saturday morning in June.
“They don’t feel they’re getting anything out of it,” she said.
Councilman Art Murphy, though, said the same pattern seems to emerge each year, with the council directing the special events committee to look into changing the date, with the same conclusion no change because of conflicts with other events, including the annual Jazz & Blues Festival.
He said the course of the race had been modified in recent years, a task that requires coordination with race officials as well as the emergency personnel in Little Silver, Fair Haven and Rumson. The race starts and ends in Red Bank, with Broad Street and Harding Road closed to traffic for the duration.
Mayor Pasquale Menna said he, too, hears yearly complaints, as well as suggestions that the race be held in a county park rather than downtown.
But the reason for the race is to honor Dr. George Sheehan, a physician and noted author of books on running, who spent most of his career in Red Bank, he said.
Menna added that the race is minimally disruptive, and noted that Broad Street was reopened to traffic by 10:30a after last year’s race.
“It does have an overall positive aspect in that it does bring people to town,” whether they spend money in stores and restaurants that day or decide to come back at another time, Menna said.
The race won approval to hold its events June 12 and 13.