May 31, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Rainbow Run kicks off Ferndale's Pride Fest

A paint-splattered boy runs ahead of the crowd Saturday in Ferndale during the Rainbow Run. (Lauren Abdel-Razzaq / The Detroit News)

Ferndale — The streets of the city were painted in color Saturday during the third annual Rainbow Run.

The 5K run and 2K walk promote acceptance and diversity in a community that has long been known for embodying those traits.

“It’s support and acceptance for LGBT rights of course and diversity in general,” said Jennifer Roosenberg, executive director of the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the run. “Our goal behind this event is to teach tolerance and acceptance of people who aren’t the same as you and how diversity can enhance a community.”

Interest has grown over the years. Last year 1,000 people signed up to run. This year, there were more than 1,200, said Roosenberg.

Like many runners, Cindy Kovacik of Harrison Township came prepared by dressing up in a rainbow bandana and knee-high socks. Her friend Kris Hickey of Roseville was rocking rainbow dredlocks.

“We can get some exercise, have some fun and enjoy the afternoon,” said Kovacik.

Added Hickey, “Everbody’s happy, relaxed, easy-going.”

Derek Poppink, of Farmington Hills, brought his children Alex, 9, and Courtney, 7, to the run. The two children took turns throwing paint at each other, Alex covered in yellow and Courtney covered in purple.

“It’s fun, it’s safe,” said their father, who said they are in a running club together. “We’ll go home and hose down afterward and go swimming.”

The run kicks off Ferndale Pride week and the start of Pride Fest. At the opening ceremony at the end of the race, organizers marked Pride Week by launching 300 biodegradable balloons of the colors of the rainbow into the air.
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Runners of all ages plastered themselves in powder paint and raced for ... (Lauren Abdel-Razzaq / The Detroit News)
Courtney Poppink, 7, of Farmington Hills, throws powdered purple paint at ... (Lauren Abdel-Razzaq / The Detroit News)