By Mike Fletcher
---- — When Marjorie Katzenmeyer was a little girl she rode her bicycle down the old U.S. 31 before it opened.
That experience prompted her to cheer on others as they took the first steps on the new U.S. 31 bypass.
“We thought this would be good for the grandkids to see so they can say they were here when this happened,” Katzenmeyer said of the historical significance of the Highway Half and 5K Run/Walk.
Marjorie, along with her husband, Jay, and their family stood behind a fence near the roadway just north of the Southway Boulevard overpass to watch the runners and walkers.
Others stood on top of the overpass cheering on the participants.
“This is a one and only chance to run on the new 31,” said Trent Oman, who was waiting for his wife, Trisha, to run by.
Oman said they drove from Carmel so his wife could run on the new highway.
“We used lived in the Greentown area,” he said. “This is pretty cool and a big change for Kokomo.”
Nearby resident, Arnie Truax brought his 4-year-old daughter, Meghan, out to see the runners and get a glimpse of the new highway.
“We just wanted to see what was going on,” he said.
“My little girl wants to be a runner some day.”
“I can run really fast,” young Meghan said.
David Leeder, past of First Nazarene Church, strolled up to root on church members who participated in the rare opportunity.
“We’re here to support them,” he said. “It’s a beautiful day for it. I’m excited this is happening. United Way does so much for this community. It’s nice to see the people in the community behind something positive.”
To the south another crowd of people stood on the overpass at Ind. 26 yelling and cheering on the participants.
Monica Everett snapped pictures of the runners as they crossed under Ind. 26 in hopes of seeing her husband, Tom Everett, and several of her friends in the run.
“My husband is an avid runner. He’s ran several minis and one marathon. He enjoys running a lot.”
Everett joined a host of others perched on the overpass cheering on the runners as they passed underneath.
“It’s awesome. It’s exciting to see all the people,” she said.
“We’re just cheering on people we know and keep them motivated. I don’t run, but I can cheer.”
One runner Everett was especially rooting for was Michelle Larson, a breast cancer survivor.
“She’s running to train for the Boston Marathon,” she said of her friend. “That’s pretty inspiring.”
Jack Lake, a retired teacher from Western High School, drove to the overpass to try to watch his son and daughter-in-law run past.
“It’s hard to see faces from up here,” he said looking down at a stream of runners and walkers. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to find them or not. I ought to get my bike out here.”