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Thermal Belt Rail Trail Grand Opening Celebration Saturday, October 19

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A portion of the Thermal Belt Rail Trail that crosses over Highway 74. Photo: Thermal Belt Rail Trail Facebook

The Thermal Belt Rail Trail will officially open on Saturday, October 19, 2019, with a day of activities surrounding the celebration. The Celebration will take place from 9am until 3pm and the public is invited and encouraged to participate. Come and stay all day, or simply visit a part of the Trail that you have not yet explored.

Welcome stations will be placed along the 13.5-mile trail. Specific locations with parking recommendations can be found on the Community Health Council of Rutherford County website. (http://www.healthcouncilrc.com). At each welcome station, visitors can pick up a prize package, including a souvenir water bottle. For every stop along the way, guests can add commemorative stickers representing each section of the Trail. Merchants and other organizations in Forest City and Spindale are participating in the event, so be sure to visit them during the Celebration.

All-age bike rides will begin at the Gilkey Trailhead and Element Church in Forest City at 9am. Registration for a bicycle gift certificate will take place at the Rutherford County Schools welcome station located at Element Church. Addresses and parking recommendation for both rides are available on the website.

Two Walk with a Doc events are planned for the day, beginning at The Farmer's Market, and at the Spindale House. Both are hosted by local physicians who will emphasize the importance of an active lifestyle and its impact on maintaining good health. More information can be found on the website.

The official ribbon cutting will take place at the Spindale trailhead at 11am. County officials and representatives from each of the towns who participated in developing the trail will speak briefly about the impact the Trail has already made for the Rutherford County community and their hopes for the future. A drawing for the bicycle gift certificate will take place after the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The Town of Forest City is planning a bridge opening ceremony at 1:30pm. Parking is available on South Broadway and Pine Street.

Twenty gift certificates to merchants located near the Thermal Belt Rail Trail will be given away following the Celebration day. Opening day visitors who post a photo of themselves on social media with #TBRTCONTEST at any mile marker along the trail will be entered in a random drawing. Entries must be made by 8pm on October 19. An additional registration and prize drawing will take place at OpenBox Bikes in downtown Spindale.

The Community Health Council of Rutherford County is hosting the event because of the impact of free access to physical activity provided by the Thermal Belt Rail Trail. A recent study shows that more than 40% of all Rutherford County residents live within two miles of the Trail. Regular physical activity can reduce the burden of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, and can prevent early death. And...it is just plain fun to see Rutherford County along the trail.

The Celebration is being planned by the Health Council, the Council's Active Living Committee and the Trail Partners, who represent the County and the individual towns that worked together to develop the Trail. "Like" the Community Health Council of Rutherford County on Facebook for updates throughout the week and for post-celebration photos and notification of contest winners.

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