October 18, 2012

Off Beat: Here's one for the bedridden

OgunquitFest's Bridge to Beach is a race fit for kings and queens ... and twins.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Beds are not usually intended as outdoor modes of transportation.

click image to enlarge

Stuffed animals went along for the ride in a previous race.

Courtesy photo


WHEN: Noon to 1 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Beach Street Bridge to Main Beach Parking Lot, Ogunquit. The race is happening during OgunquitFest, which runs Friday through Sunday


INFO: 646-2939; visitogunquit.org

Garret Barcheski found that first-hand last year during the Bridge to Beach Bed Race at the annual OgunquitFest.

"We had a big old queen-sized bed with just little tiny bed wheels, so pushing it on the street was not easy," said Barcheski, a student at the University of New England who raced as a member of the Animal Welfare Society team. "I was not expecting it to be so exhausting."

But the Animal Welfare Society team did win the race's coveted "Broken Spring" award, given to the "craziest" entry. Team members wore animal hats, one wore a dog suit, and at times team members tumbled to the ground.

"It was purely accidental," insisted Barcheski, who volunteers at the welfare society.

The Bridge to Beach Bed Race -- now in its fifth year -- draws big crowds at OgunquitFest, at least partly because you never know what to expect.

Some teams put racing bike tires on their beds, others put boat sails up, and some just slog along pushing a big old bed with a headboard like they're moving it out of grandma's house.

Very quickly.

This year's race will be held at noon Sunday, on the last day of the three-day OgunquitFest. The race rules allow for up to 16 teams to compete, but finding that many people -- five per team -- who can commit to pushing a bed around town streets for a quarter mile or so is difficult.

"You have to find runners, you have put a proper bed together, so it takes a lot of commitment," said Frances Reed, vice president of the Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce, organizer of OgunquitFest.

The people who have what it takes to compete in bed racing say it's fun, and they take pride in the show they put on for spectators, for whom the event is completely free.

The bed race is just one event during the three-day OgunquitFest on Main Street. Most events are free, but some cost money, such as the Halloween Fun House on Friday and Saturday night ($10 per family).

Other highlights of the festival include a car show on Saturday morning, the High Heel Dash and Walk Off race at 3 p.m. Saturday, and a costume parade at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. For a full schedule, go to visitogunquit.org.

For spectators, the bed race is not just people running while pushing a bed. The beds themselves can be entertaining, as they are often decked out like boats or parade floats with various themes. And the pushers are usually in costumes to match the theme of the bed.

Plus, halfway through the race, the team member riding on the bed is required to get off. A new team member has to become the rider, and has to change into the costume of the previous bed rider.

For instance, during last year's race, the Meadowmere Resort in Ogunquit entered a racing bed with a "Wizard of Oz" theme and Dorothy as the bed jockey. At the turnaround point, the Cowardly Lion had to shed his fur and change into Dorothy's clothes, and visa versa, with as much speed as possible.

"It's really a hoot to watch, and teams can be very competitive," said Allyson Cavaretta, director of sales and marketing for Meadowmere Resort and coordinator of the resort's bed team. "You need to be in pretty good shape to push a full mattress and box spring set. It's got some weight, so it's a challenge starting it, and also keeping up with it."

But much less challenging to watch.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


Twitter: RayRouthier


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