Michigan’s Run for the Trees: Happy Little 5K Will Return in 2021
This year, the Michigan DNR saw overwhelming demand for the first edition of the Run for the Trees: Happy Little 5K. After announcing the event in October of 2019, the original cap of 1,00 participants was increased to 25,000 before registration opened in early 2020. This unique and fun virtual event celebrates beloved painter Bob Ross, while also helping raise money for planting trees in Michigan state parks.
2021’s virtual 5K will take place April 22-30. Just like this year the event coincides with Earth Day. For an entry fee of just $34, “Each participant will be shipped a Happy Little T-shirt, commemorative bib number and finisher’s medal. If you choose, we encourage you to wear your Happy Little T-shirt and commemorative bib while you’re completing your 5K. Be sure to proudly wear your medal after completion.” You can sign up for a reminder email now, and registration will open on December 1st.
The virtual 5K format is a perfect fit for our current circumstances with COVID-19. Participants are allowed to run, hike, or walk their 5K anywhere outdoors with a “you pick the pace and place” philosophy. Virtual 5Ks were gaining momentum before the pandemic, and now are popping up with even more frequency as runners seek a way to do races while following proper safety guidelines.
Bob Ross often painted “happy little trees” on his PBS show “The Joy of Painting.” He has become a beloved figure like Mister Rogers over the past few decades, and now Bob Ross Inc. has carried on his legacy by partnering with organizations like the Michigan DNR to plant trees and preserve forests. From the Michigan DNR: “Volunteers collect local native seeds from the areas where trees are most needed. Through a partnership with the Michigan Department of Corrections, the seeds are placed in the care of inmates in the Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative, where inmates learn horticultural practices and help raise new trees for replanting. The collection of local native seeds is key to growing trees specifically for replanting at state parks within the same geographical region, because trees with similar genetics – for example, height, leaf shape and size, type of flowers and function – are much more likely to thrive. The Happy Little Trees program supports the restoration of native Michigan ecosystems and other natural resources by growing native trees, shrubs, grasses and plant products for use in Michigan state parks, recreation areas and public boating access sites.”
The first three parks to get the “Happy Little Trees Ahead” signs were Port Crescent State Park, Orchard Beach State Park, and Yankee Springs State Recreation Area. The Bob Ross shirts that volunteers get for helping with planting efforts proved so popular that you can now buy them from Michigan-based apparel Peninsulas (www.shoppeninsulas.com).