By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
As they say, the show must go on.
For the last five years, the annual Family Fun Run has been a staple in North Attleborough, raising thousands for the school music department. Though the impact of COVID-19 means the event won’t be happening as planned, a new virtual one will take its place this year.
Choral Director Robert Couture said the plan was originally to cancel the event, but while out for a walk with his family and seeing many others doing the same, he changed his mind. Instead, a virtual 5K will be held from May 9-16. Participants can register online or visit www.nahsmusic.com. During that week they can walk the distance—3.1 miles—outside or on their treadmill, tracking progress through apps such as Map My Run or taking a photo of the treadmill’s readout.
“These are fairly common now,” said Couture of the virtual race. “We’re not inventing anything here.”
The theme for this run was supposed to be Tunes and Toons, and people would be encouraged to dress as cartoon characters, while the band would play songs from Disney movies, the Simpsons, and other animations. Couture said this will be next year’s theme.
The run normally sees approximately 400 participants, and awards are given out to the top runners in different categories. This year, however, everyone will get a medal, made by Ashworth Awards and mailed after the virtual run has concluded. Couture said that though this type of event has fewer logistical challenges, it is still a relatively new concept, and he’ll be looking to other virtual runs to see what needs to be done.
“If people start spreading this to aunts and uncles around the country, we could see even more people,” he said. “We’re in new territory.”
The race raises money through a combination of sponsors and participants. He said much of the money from sponsors has been collected over time, and participation cost has been reduced to $15 for those 20 and older and $10 for those under 20. Couture has received few questions about the event, saying that with so many being canceled or delayed, the writing was on the wall.
“I hope this is just as successful,” he said.
Another change to the school’s fine arts programs is the creation of virtual coffeehouses. The first was held March 27, and the second will be held this Friday at 7:30 p.m. For those who cannot watch the livestream, the videos will remain on YouTube and links posted to the department’s Facebook page.
Couture said many events such as the spring concert and competitions in Norwood and New York have been canceled, and the Fine Arts Festival, slated for mid-May, will likely be delayed. He said this has been especially hard for the seniors, as this year is their last to perform.
“My heart went out to the kids, they love playing together,” he said.
The format for the event is very open. Students submit videos of themselves doing any sort of performance—music, acting, even comedy. Couture said that this works better than a live performance, since the students have the time to refine their work. Those video are then streamed on YouTube and viewers can make comments or ask questions.
“The live chat was the best thing,” said Couture. “The positivity was amazing. What people were writing was just incredible.”