MOUNT ARLINGTON – Runners and walkers off all ages, shapes and sizes took part Saturday in the second annual Memorial 5K Run/Walk to honor fallen borough police officer Joe Wargo.
The 5K run and 1-mile walk route started at the civic center on North Glen Avenue, turned left onto Windermere Avenue and continued to Bertrand Island Road where participants were treated to a giant American flag hanging from a Mount Arlington FD ladder truck. Runners and walkers looped around Bertrand Island and continued back to the civic center.
Officer Wargo was on duty when he was killed on Route 80 by a driver under the influence in October of 2011. To honor his memory and commemorate the first anniversary of his death, the Mount Arlington Police Department, led by Chief Keith Licata, organized the first 5K at this time last year.
This year’s event drew 110 participants, including members of Wargo’s family and his widow, Amy.
“This year it’s a little less ceremonious,” said Licata Saturday morning before the start of the race. “It’s geared more toward a 5K, an event that gets the community together but will always be in memory of Joe.”
Jason Heap from Morristown dodged a half dozen local youth soccer players sprinting from the starting line to take first place with a time of 18:33. Becky Keenan from Mount Arlington was the first female to cross the finish line, coming in at 21:37. As she did last year, Keenan crossed the finish line well ahead of her husband, Dennis, who got a high five from his wife at the end of the race.
Eleven-year-old Marcus Roldan from Mount Arlington was the fourth runner to cross the finish line.
This year’s event had 13 local sponsors. Proceeds from the event will be donated to a local charity yet to be named.
"This is a wonderful event, a way to show support," said Nancy Wade, 75, from Hopatcong who completed the mile walk. Wade's grandson is a police officer with the Mount Arlington PD.
Debbie Devery from Mount Arlington ran the 5K carrying an American flag.