The Westport Parks and Recreation Department will open the 2011 and 36th Annual Age Group Track and Field season next Thursday at 6 p.m. with the first of six scheduled weekly track and field meets to be held at the Staples High School Track and Field Complex.

The Age Group Track and Field Program is for elementary and middle school age youngsters and will meet every Thursday through Aug. 4 and will offer competition in a variety of age appropriate events for both boys and girls.

This year, the format under which the program is conducted will be the same as last year. First, an entry fee of $24 for Westport residents and $36 for non-residents will be charged for the entire series of meets. Additionally, participants have the option of choosing to pay a weekly fee of $6 or $8 per meet for residents and non-residents respectively instead of the series program fee.

Second, competition in each event will be in the following 10 age groups for both boys and girls: age 3 and under, every age year starting with age 4 through 11, and ages 12 and over. Third, ribbons will be awarded in all age groups for each event for first, second and third places. Finally, the following events will be contested for all age groups at each meet: 50-meter dash, 100-meter dash, 400 meter run, long jump, softball throw, frisbee throw, 4x100 meter relay and 1600 meter run for older age groups. Additionally, the high jump may be contested as a non-competitive event for all age groups.

Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday and all interested persons are invited to participate.

Parent or guardian permission is required of all participants and must be secured by a signed application form. Applications for and information about the program are available at the Westport Parks and Recreation Office or at the start of each meet.

Laddie Lawrence, Staples High School Cross Country and Track Coach, the originator of this program, will be directing this program and will be assisted by other Staples coaches, athletes and track and field alumni.