Activities for Ogden Classic to begin today

WHEELING – A weekend of special recognition, music, running and biking begins at 4 p.m. today with a traveling tribute to the nation’s veterans.

The annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Veterans Torch Relay starts at the Osiris Shrine Temple in Elm Grove and heads west across the city.

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger will be the first to carry the torch west along National Road, handing it off to two Ohio County sheriff’s deputies near the point where Interstate 70 and 470 meet. They will run to Wheeling Park, where veterans Michael Novotney and John Looney will accept the flaming symbol of freedom.

Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie and his family will take the torch at the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center, running to the top of Chicken Neck Hill and Ohio County Schools Superintendent Dianna Vargo.

Vargo will continue west on U.S. 40 until she hands the torch off to Brenda Danehart and Rachael Dierkes at Perkins Family Restaurant & Bakery. They will relay to Generations Restaurant & Pub, where the torch will be handed to U.S. Army Reserve Col. Paul Hicks.

Hicks represents the first of the four military branches – all of which will take part in the event. Veterans from the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan are invited to join him there.

The Vietnam veterans, led by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Steve Habursky, will join the procession at the Windmill, and the group will head down Stone Boulevard to the historical marker, where they will join with the Korean War-era veterans and retired U.S. Air Force Sgt. Jim L. Koonce.

Those participating will proceed to the start/finish line at 14th and Main streets, where World War II veterans will be waiting.

J. Michael Myer, executive editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, will serve as keynote speaker for the ceremony in downtown Wheeling.

The Torch Relay and subsequent ceremony will conclude in traditional military fashion, when the streets of Wheeling echo with the sound of taps.

Later today, at 7:45 p.m. following the Ohio Valley Parent Tiny Tot Trot, Ogden Fun Run and Ogden Mile, a special concert for area veterans will be held at Heritage Port, featuring the Allegheny Brass Band.

On Saturday, the Ogden Half Marathon Classic gets under way on 14th Street with the Half Marathon Walk at 7:30 a.m. and the Half Marathon Run at 8 a.m. The 5K Run/Walk begins at 8:15 a.m. on 14th Street, followed at 9 a.m. by the music of the Original Easy Street band, food and vendors at Heritage Port.

Awards will be presented at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. at the Heritage Port stage, and entertainment will continue throughout the afternoon and evening.

A memorial parade will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday starting at the S Bridge in Elm Grove to honor all veterans and to unveil bridges being dedicated to two local soldiers, Capt. David VanCamp and Sgt. Matthew Hunter, who both died while serving in Iraq.

Also Saturday, graduating students from Wheeling Central Catholic High School will be recognized, with The Linsly School’s graduation taking place Sunday.

Additional events slated for Sunday including the Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour, and on Memorial Day, Monday, veterans services are set throughout the region.