Parish Running & Walking Club hits the streets for second season

Published 2:05 pm Thursday, March 23, 2023

Vicksburgers wanting to enjoy downtown views and improve health and wellness are invited to join the Parish Running and Walking Club, which entered its second season on Tuesday.

Hosted by Parish Waterfowl Co. owners Brad and Callie Eldridge, the club provides participants with a time of fellowship as they run and walk along set routes in downtown Vicksburg and gather at downtown businesses. For at least the first couple of weeks, the route will begin at Parish, 1100 Washington St., and extend down Washington Street to Jackson Street before doubling back and going down the hill to Levee Street, turning around at the Levee Street Warehouse venue.

However, since some runners want more of a challenge, Brad Eldridge said future routes will take advantage of Vicksburg’s rolling hills.

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“As we go on, I’m probably going to do routes with more hills,” Brad said. “My plans for this year are to change things and ramp it up a little bit, possibly including entertainment on those nights (to motivate people to come downtown).”

The club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Parish Waterfowl Co. As with most community outreach events the Eldridges lead, the runs open with a prayer before runners and walkers take to the street.

For club member Kaitlyn Litsey, an avid runner and friend of the Eldridges, having a large group to run with in the downtown area adds a sense of security and is a great opportunity to meet new people.

“I love running downtown, but I don’t like running by myself downtown,” Litsey said. “I started the first meeting with them last year. We’re really hoping to expand the group and bring more people in.”

Brad, whose wife was a cross-country runner in school and whose oldest daughter runs for Vicksburg Catholic School, said the idea to start a running club was borne out of his own desire to “keep up” when the family lived in Baton Rouge years ago.

He first started running using the “CouchTo5K” mobile app and then joined a similar running club hosted by a business in downtown Baton Rouge. Remembering the success of that club — and the people it brought to businesses in the area every week — Brad said he felt like Vicksburg had the potential for similar success.

At its peak last year, the club had between 30 and 40 weekly participants. This year, Brad said he wants to double that number and bring more people downtown to enjoy its brick streets and waterfront sunsets.

And right now, he said, the weather is perfect for an evening run.

“We need to utilize our downtown area for stuff like this because it is so beautiful,” he said. “You have the sun setting over the river and the boats at the waterfront, and the old buildings and brick streets, it’s just too cool not to enjoy.”