ANDOVER, MASS. (WHDH) - Thousands of people hit the course in Andover Thursday for the 36th annual Andover Feaster Five road race. 

A holiday tradition in the community, the event is the largest Thanksgiving Day road race in New England. This year, former Bruins captain Zdeno Chara served as the race’s official starter. 

“People are here to be with family,” said race director David McGillivray. 

“I always enjoy being part of the community,” Chara said. “And having this race on Thanksgiving, seeing all the people coming out and supporting it, it’s a lot of fun.”

More than 7,000 runners and walkers participated in this year’s race. 

Back for another year, the 2023 iteration of the event was extra special, with the Feaster Five Kids’ Run now named Sidney’s Rainbow Run to honor the memory of Sidney Mae Olson. 

Olson, 5, was hit and killed by a tractor-trailer in Andover back in May. Her father, Eric Olson, spoke to 7NEWS saying he and his wife wanted to find a way for Sidney’s legacy of love to live on. 

“It’s going to be a celebration of who she was, what she stood for, her family,” McGillivray said of the newly renamed kids’ run. “We’re going to remember her in a big way.”

“Since the day Sidney died, we knew we had have to have a new type of relationship with her,” Eric Olson said. “This is just one way that we’re seeing her spirit live on and live on through so many kids in the community.”

Five hundred young runners participated in the rainbow-themed kids’ run Thursday. 

Continuing in his comments, Eric Olson said his daughter loved everyone, adding that her love of rainbows was inspired by her love for her friends. 

“For her fifth birthday party, she asked for a rainbow birthday party because it was all the colors of her friends,” he said. “That’s what kind of kid she was. That’s where the name of the race came from.”

“She was just a lover,” Olson said. “She loved everybody and she would just love to see this rainbow of children out here today.”

Part of the proceeds from this year’s race will go to the Sidney Mae Olson Rainbow Fund, which helps to create safer neighborhoods and provides children with access to educational programs in the community. 

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