BRUNSWICK — To make it in a bed race, participants must have stamina, imagination and a sense of humor.
Those attributes became apparent Saturday at the Downtown Brunswick Early Bird Sale’s Rolling Slumber Bed Races. There were a team of employees from the Thornton Oaks retirement community dressed in acorn hats pushing a sleigh bed with flashing lights, a Buddy Holly bed pushed by Maine State Music Theatre members dressed in leather jackets, and the head-turning Moose Caboose bed pushed by the 92 Moose WMME radio station team.
They were among 12 teams representing area businesses and organizations that participated in the annual event, which is designed to draw shoppers to downtown Brunswick during the holiday season.
In its third year, the race attracted more participants than ever, said Louisa Edgerton, a volunteer with the Brunswick Downtown Association, which organizes the event. Edgerton said attendance has grown every year. More than 500 people lined the race route on Saturday.
“Wait until you see the danger and excitement,” Edgerton said, trying to explain the appeal of watching teams of four pushers and one rider in silly costumes fly down Park Row and back.
Competitors had to abide by a number of rules. They had to be at least 18 years old. Their beds had to be at least 42 inches wide and 78 inches long. Any bed that lost a wheel or collapsed during the race would be disqualified.
Bed racing has become a popular community activity in the past few decades, but its origins are murky. The Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce has thrown its annual OgunquitFest Bridge to the Beach Bed Race for the past decade. Crowds of 25,000 people descend on the 48-year-old Great Knaresborough Bed Race in Knaresborough, England.
Participants in the Brunswick bed race said the event gave them a chance to get their company names out before the public and build team spirit among fellow employees. They said they also enjoyed the challenge of designing a fast and sturdy bed.
“We may not be the fastest but we looked good. This is totally fun,” said Kathi Kacinski, manager of the Maine State Music Theatre.
Wendy Herrick of Wendy Herrick Floral Designs and Tuxedo Rentals assembled a team of four pushers, all men dressed in tuxedos, while she rode in the bed, dubbed the “Bed of Roses.” Herrick’s team members said they had developed several strategies to win the race.
“Go as fast as possible,” said Jaed Coffin.
“Just keep it together,” said Vin Shende.
Spectators said bed races are fun for all ages.
Wayne Napples of Brunswick brought his whole family to cheer on the Pathway Vineyard Church team.
All eyes were on the Cool As A Moose team, two-time defending champions. The team pushed a black streamlined bed and sported matching black uniforms. In the end Wendy Herrick Floral Designs and Tuxedo Rentals won bragging rights and a trophy as the official winner of the bed race. The team managed to beat Cool As A Moose, despite a flat left rear tire, crossing the finish line in 22.4 seconds.
Beth Quimby can be reached at 791-6363 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org