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'Petesgiving' and Tony's Turkey Trot take over Beaches Town Center for Thanksgiving

Thousands of people will be in Atlantic and Neptune Beaches Thursday morning for two events it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without.

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla — It wouldn't be Thanksgiving in Neptune and Atlantic Beaches without Pete's Bar's block party and Tony’s Turkey Trot.

The events are happening at about the same time Thursday morning at Beaches Town Center.

It's the first annual Petesgiving under new management for Duval County's oldest bar that's been in Neptune Beach almost 90 years. Up to 5,000 people are expected and the new mangers say they'll be bringing the same vibe as Thanksgivings past.  

Jay Dodson, who's a partner at Pete's says they're excited for their new backyard to be open. Festivities will be inside and outside like usual and this year the Budweiser Clydesdales will be there.

Dodson says they've hosted some big events in the past and that Petesgiving is a big deal so they're excited to host it.

"Everybody that lives here has been coming out for years and everybody comes out and has fun," Dodson said. "Gets a little extra smile on their face before they go spend the rest of the day with their family."

Festivities start at 9:00 a.m., which is also the time you'll see some people running in turkey outfits in the same area. The 9th Tony’s Turkey Trot for Brain Injury Awareness kicks off in Atlantic Beach with a 5K race at 8:00 a.m. and a one-mile fun run is at 9:30 a.m.

Over 3,000 people are expected to come out for the turkey trot, named after a fellow named Tony. It's a fun event, but that's because Tony's family turned tragedy into something positive that is now helping many others.

Tony was hit by a drunk driver in 2011 and required 24/7 care. His daughter, Anne-Marie Tucker, the founder Tony's Turkey Trot, was caring for him as well as raising two young boys while her husband was in the military. She says there weren't many resources for her family.

Since then, Tucker has been changing that. The turkey trot is now partnered with UF Health and last year raised $40,000 for three brain wellness programs. One of those programs is the new brain wellness center named after Dr. Leon Haley, UF Health's CEO who died in the summer of last year.

Tucker says it means a lot to see people come out for the turkey trot year after year and have a great time.

"I feel blessed that I've been able to start something like this from something that happened in a tragic way to somebody who gave a lot to me and my life," Tucker said. "That I'm able to create a legend or just a legacy about his name."

They are promoting helmet safety for children at the trot. Brian Yorkgitis, pediatric trauma medical director at UF Health Jacksonville, says if there's one thing people take away from the event, it should be to wear a helmet when it's needed.

"We see so many traumatic brain injuries that are severe that could have maybe never even happened and lives altered just by making one simple choice of not to wear a helmet," Yorkgitis said. "So I would urge every parent, if you're getting a bike for your kid for this Christmas or anything that they ride on, is please ensure that they have a proper fitting helmet."

Learn how to get involved and where the trot will be here.

Tucker is also the author of a children's book based on her father's story. Find the book here.

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