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Battle of the Badges and more entertains at tub races

by Elisha Morrison | June 5, 2016 at 4:00 a.m.
The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen WATER HAZARD: Members of the Riser Auto Tub team, from left, Clay Shatley, John Ringgold, Matt Barrett, in tub, Evan Dingler, right, and Tex Holmes, not visible in back, roll across the finish line to win the Traditional Tub division of the 11th Annual Stueart Pennington Running of the Tubs Saturday.

The Battle of the Badges was back on Saturday during the 11th annual Stueart Pennington Running Of The Tubs along Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs, with a new competitor to join the fray.

The Hot Springs Fire Department, which won the battle by default last year because the police department did not enter the competition, successfully defended its title this year.

"It's always awesome beating the cops," said Kevin Ellsworth, captain of the fire department team, adding that the competition is really all in good fun. He also complimented the new competitor in the Battle of the Badges, the Arkansas Department of Correction -- Ouachita River Unit Emergency Response Team, and said he hoped they entered the race again next year.

Other winners included the following: Modified Tub, Hot Springs Police Department Tub No. 1; Traditional Tub, Riser Auto; Most Original, Arkansas Department of Correction; Most Spirit, Ouachita Job Corps; and Best Overall, the Arlington.

The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen ALL WET: Members of the Hot Springs Police Department Tub No. 1 team, from left, Joey Williams, Shannon Steed, in tub, John Hammons, Jjesus Anaya and Zack Rostan, win a heat in the Modified Tub division of the 11th Annual Stueart Pennington Running Of The Tubs on Saturday. The tub went on the win the modified division.

"It is the most heated rivalry in all of bathtub racing," said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, the sponsor of the race, which also serves as a fundraiser for the Downtown Association Christmas Tree Fund.

This year's Battle of the Badges featured one tub from the Hot Springs Fire Department, two from the Hot Springs Police Department, and one from the Ouachita River Unit. Unlike the rest of the bathtub races, the Battle of the Badges is run without stops and without interference from the judges, who normally enforce an arcane set of rules during the competition.

Other entrants included LakePointe Church, with a "Star Wars" themed tub called Galaxy; Ho Ho Ho Hot Springs, representing Visit Hot Springs; The Ninja Tub, representing Grandmaster Han's Martial Arts; Jack of All Trades, entered by Ouachita Job Corps; Bubbly Brothers, representing the Quapaw Baths & Spa; Jaws, by Riser Auto; All Steamed Up, representing the Hot Springs National Park Service Employee Association; Lutheran Badewanne, representing First Lutheran Church; Hog Wash, representing Bath Fitter; Who Let the Cows Out?, representing Chick-fil-A; and Wild Wild Tub, representing the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa.

Arrison said he believes it was the most tubs entered in the event's history.

The family of the late Stueart Pennington, the namesake of the race, acted as grand marshals for the parade of tubs to start the event.

"He loved a good time so this is representative of his personality," said Jim Pennington, Stueart Pennington's brother.

The races consisted of three traditional tub heats and two modified tub heats, plus a final race for each. Along the race were three spots where the racers had to perform a task -- Ring Around the Tub, Bath Toss and Road Kill.

Bonuses were given to teams for including a Hot Springs National Park logo, having a live animal and a likeness of a superhero.

Spectators lined Central Avenue along the course, which ran from the front of the Arlington to the finish line at the crosswalk in front of the Exchange Street Parking Plaza, armed with water guns and water balloons to throw at the races and each other.

Arrison said what makes the running of the tubs different from other Hot Springs events is the crowd participation. He said he saw both small children and grandmothers throwing balloons.

"It was a great-looking crowd of all ages," Arrison said.

Judges for the race were Arrison, Leysa Lowery, Clyde Covington, Robert Zunick, Chris Hinkel, Maxwell Blade, Randy Hill, Don Gooch, Tammy Clampet, Marianne Chartrand, Amy Hale and Ed Davis.

Kimberly Norris, of Hot Springs, attended the race for the first time with her children and friends to celebrate the eighth birthday of her daughter, Elivia Harmon.

"I loved it, and I want to come again," Norris said.

"It is so great," said Harmon.

Arrison said Mary Neilson, special events manager for Visit Hot Springs, and her team did a "great job" putting together this year's event, which couldn't have taken place without the Hot Springs police and fire departments.

He said this year's competition also drew a "great crowd" and "great contestants."

"I am looking forward to the 12th," he said.

Local on 06/05/2016

Print Headline: Battle of the Badges and more entertains at tub races

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