Pittsfield moves, grooves to health at Third Thursday


Photo Gallery | Photos from June's fitness themed Third Thursday

PITTSFIELD -- Running, breakdancing, jujitsu, taekwondo and locally grown produce accented a downtown celebration centered around healthy living Thursday.

A mile-long race down North Street and back, sponsored by Berkshire Bank, kicked off this edition of the city's popular Third Thursday series.

Scott Carpenter, 19, led the pack with a blistering time of 4 minutes, 33 seconds, and Emma Jourdain, 14, finished first among women with a time of 5:41. More than 100 people took part in the race, called Berkshire Bank's Green Mile Road Race.

Farther along North Street, the city's Director of Public Health Gina Armstrong gave out materials on exercise and nutrition from one of many booths set up Thursday.

"It's nice to see the city embracing healthy eating and active living," Armstrong said. "We certainly have the local produce, parks, hiking trails and walking loops here."

Morgan Kulchinsky, culinary coach at Pittsfield's nutrition center, worked alongside Armstrong teaching children to make a seasonal ribbon salad using asparagus, chioggia beets, carrots and an olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan cheese dressing.

"We've gotten a lot of ‘thumbs ups' on the recipe," Kulchinsky said. "It was many kids' first time trying asparagus."

And the recipe was a fitting one, as the town of Hadley just east of Berkshire County, was once known as "the asparagus growing capital of the world." More than 200 acres of land in Hadley are devoted to asparagus growing.

Another seasonal health concern involved a local pest, and Christopher Horton, superintendent of Berkshire County's Mosquito Control Project, came out to educate people about it.

Mosquitos, which grow from larva to adults in seven days, can spread disease to humans by first preying upon a bird carrying an illness, then biting a person.

"Pittsfield is a real mosquito habitat," Horton said. "It's a river valley and a flood plain area. If you have infected birds around, you could see amplification [of the number of mosquitos that could spread illness]."

Horton and his team will send samples of local mosquitos to the state Department of Public Health weekly throughout the summer in an attempt to detect a problem.

"Our first samples went out Friday," he said.

If infected bugs start showing up, Horton and others plan to undertake adult population control and source reduction -- eliminating things like standing water.

In this arena, residents can help by disposing of waste like old automobile tires, which often collect water and give off heat, creating a perfect environment for the pests.

Thousands milled North Street for the event, where bands played by the handful, residents enjoyed everything from martial arts to ping pong and four square, and the city indeed showed its active side.

To reach Phil Demers:
or (413) 281-2859.
On Twitter: @BE_PhilD


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