Run/Walk BOOM asking public about possible name change

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published May 8, 2013


HUNTINGTON WOODS — Since the tragedy at the Boston Marathon in mid-April, bigger running races across the globe have taken extra precautions with safety. In Huntington Woods, it is a race name that has event organizers concerned.

The second annual Run/Walk BOOM one-mile and 5k event is scheduled for June 29 and is used as a fundraiser for the community’s Fourth of July fireworks show. However, Alex Cooper, an event committee member, is worried the presence of “boom” in the event name would not be respectful to the victims of the bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line April 15.

With members of the committee disagreeing on what action should be taken, they have decided to ask the public. By visiting, people can vote on whether the committee should change the event name and why.

“Things were all in place for this year, with brochures and banners and sponsors, then two weeks ago, the unfortunate tragedy at the Boston Marathon occurred,” Cooper said. “As a committee, we asked ourselves if we needed to rename the event. Some felt yes, some felt no and others weren’t sure, so we suggested to conduct a one-question survey of the community and get their feedback.”

Last year’s event saw 400 runners from Huntington Woods and neighboring communities bring in $9,000 for the fireworks, with the Huntington Woods Men’s Club covering the difference of the $13,500 holiday show.

“Fireworks were a luxury the city could no longer pay for,” Cooper said. “Fireworks are not an essential service, compared to police and fire and the Department of Public Works. The city was looking at not funding the show, so we wanted a way to raise money that was fun for the family.”

The survey on the event’s website asks simply for the user to answer yes or no to the name change, and the user can provide a reason for the choice. Cooper, who has access to the results as they come in, said responses have varied.

For those who voted yes, respect to the Boston Marathon victims and families has been the big reason why.

“There has been a lot of passion on both sides,” Cooper said. “Out of respect and being sensitive to the tragedy in Boston and for those who have been impacted, people do want the name to be changed. On the other hand, others say the name is fine and we should not let the people who committed the act of the tragedy to win by affecting our event.”

Committee member Alice Mar said she understands where those who want to change the name are coming from, but she feels the name is just a name and not something that needs to be changed.

“I think, after all is said and done, I think people will not even notice the name,” Mar said. “The week it happened, it was more prevalent, but if you look at the media every day, there are always traumatic things happening everywhere. I think it is a good decision to put the question out there to see how people feel, and it will be curious to see what they think.”

The event committee will meet later this month to go over the results and decide on a course of action. Cooper said he would be in charge of gathering the data from the survey and breaking it down to the committee.

If it is decided the name should be changed this year, extra money would have to be put into promotion to change the event’s logo on the website, banners and other advertising material.

“There are a number of options with not changing it, changing it next year or changing it now,” Cooper said. “No matter if we change it this year or next, there are cost ramifications, and it eats into the money that would go toward the fundraiser purpose.

“We have a lot of people who say don’t do anything this year, but at the same time, we want to acknowledge the tragedy that happened and be sensitive to that. We just need to find the appropriate way.”