With wind chills hovering well below zero and snow and ice piled high just about everywhere, it is a tough season for joggers and walkers.

The dangers of trudging along snow snarled streets is plainly evident, and every so often tragedy reminds us of the degree of danger. mallwalkers

Just over two decades ago, at age 33, a local television reporter at the pinnacle of her career, a popular, talented reporter for New Haven’s WTNH, was killed after being struck by a car while jogging in mid-March.  Ellen Abrams was “facing traffic while jogging west on the side of snow-banked Frog Hollow Road in Ellington,” according to published reports at the time.

Tragically, it would not be the last fatality involving someone looking to get some exercise on local roads before the snow banks had receded.  Last month, police in Torrington reported that a jogger was fatally struck by a snowplow.

Through the years, individuals looking for a safe alternative to outside conditions have turned to area shopping malls in their prior-to-opening hours.  While jogging may not be favored, walking is certainly an option.  And winter’s unrelenting cold makes the alternative even more attractive.

runningwithyaktrax2Officials at Waterford’s Crystal Mall indicate that their mall walking program is year-round, and has been running for over 10 years.  They have approximately 20 regular participants, and doors open for the program at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sundays.  Advance sign-up is required, and people who are interested can easily sign up at Guest Services or the mall office during regular shopping hours.

At the Enfield Square Mall, early walking hours are Monday – Saturday at 8 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m.  While The Shoppes at Buckland Hills does not have a formal mall walker program; the mall is open two hours before stores open to shoppers (8 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. Sunday) year-round for walkers seeking a climate-controlled environment, officials say.

Westfarms Mall on the West Hartford-Farmington line opens for walkers at 7 a.m. Monday through Sunday.  Individuals should enter through the main entrance. Coat racks are conveniently located on the upper level near the Security Dispatch Desk.  At Westfarms, by walking completely around the upper level (including all corridors) you will have walked .76/mile, and by walking completely around the lower level (including all corridors) you will have walked .72/mile, according to the mall’s website.  The mall walkers club is sponsored by Hartford HealthCare, which presents informational seminars with HHC doctors and nurses.Snow Banks - car

More than twenty years after her death, Ellen Abrams is remembered at the University of Hartford each year with  the Ellen Abrams Memorial Scholarship, a $1,500 scholarship awarded annually to a deserving junior or senior Communication major with demonstrated financial need.  Her family continues to attend the awards ceremony, sharing her commitment to journalism with students receiving the scholarship in her name.

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