By Mary O’KEEFE
Last week, champion tricycle riders took their shot for the coveted first place award at the Lincoln 500. For 31 years, Lincoln Elementary School students, teachers and parents have transformed the school’s campus into a rally racetrack. Drivers (riders) from all ages prepare for the day they will cross that finish line with the checkered flag signaling their win.
Glendale police and fire departments join in support of the race that highlights teamwork, school support and healthy exercise. Five teams – Orange, Blue, Yellow, Green and Black are in the center of the field. The racetrack surrounds them; balloons arch the finish line. Before the race began Lincoln Principal Bill Card announced the Teacher of the Year, kindergarten instructor Clotilde Jang, who has been with Lincoln for 15 years.
The Classified Employee of the Year award went to Nancy Lynch Canale. She is a special education aid and has been with the school for 27 years. Teacher John Lamond started Lincoln 500 over 30 years ago. Card had invited him to be the event’s grand marshal but he was unable to attend due to medical problems.
“So we have decided to honor all the teachers,” Card said.
Second grade teacher Martha Plumtree represented all teachers and rode in one of the antique vehicles that were part of the pre-race parade. Glendale Fire Department Station 29 firefighters drove their fire engine onto the campus and raised the ladder with an American flag flying from the top. Crescenta Valley High School JROTC color guard began the event, then the Pledge of Allegiance to the high flying flag followed by a parade of classic cars with honored guests.
The Red Team started the race with an early lead and maintained it, racing almost one lap ahead of the other teams. At the end the Red Team came in first, Yellow was second and Blue crossed the line at third place.
“It was great,” said third grader and racer Brandon Bell at the end of the race. “But my legs hurt.”
“There was no real training before the race,” said second grader Christina Gukasian.
Chase Becker, first grader, said he had trained a little. “But I was riding a different bike.”
At the end motorcycle officers walked over to give the Red Team racers speeding tickets.
The price of being champion.