Running of the Tubs welcomes second out-of-state team

The Sentinel-Record/File photo STRANGER THINGS: A member of the Stranger Things tub team from Austin, Texas, gets pummeled with water balloons during the 12th annual Stueart Pennington Running of the Tubs on June 3, 2017.
The Sentinel-Record/File photo STRANGER THINGS: A member of the Stranger Things tub team from Austin, Texas, gets pummeled with water balloons during the 12th annual Stueart Pennington Running of the Tubs on June 3, 2017.

The 14th annual Stueart Pennington World Championship Running of the Tubs continues to garner attention from out-of-state teams, organizers said Friday.

Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, told The Sentinel-Record the deadline to enter was Friday.

A team from Shreveport has entered their tub this year, following suit of a returning Austin, Texas, team. The annual race is set for 9 a.m. June 1 on Central Avenue in front of Bathhouse Row.

"On Thursday we received the entry forms from the Treasure Isle RV Park Team," Bill Solleder, marketing manager for Visit Hot Springs, said in a news release. "The RV park is here in Hot Springs, but all the members of the racing team are from Louisiana.

"They'll join the Austin Weirdos from Texas, who are returning for the third year, in widening the scope of out-of-state contenders. Brett Beeler of the Austin Weirdos told us, 'We are out to bring the World Championship back to the great state of Texas,' so we'll see the rivalries begin to develop."

According to Solleder, other first-time competitors include Climate Control Heat and Air, Hale Entertainment, the Downtown Derby Dolls and O'Reilly Auto Parts.

Returning competitors include Riser Ford, Hot Springs Police Department, Hot Springs Fire Department, Garland County Habitat for Humanity, The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa, Visit Hot Springs, Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium, Quapaw Baths & Spa and The Austin Weirdos.

Solleder said in the release that all tubs must bear an ESPN, Visit Hot Springs and Bathhouse Soapery decal clearly visible on the outside of the tub. This new rule is just one of the already "incredibly complicated" set of rules that govern the event.

According to the release, ESPN Arkansas will broadcast live from the finish line on Central Avenue at the south end of Bathhouse Row and races will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube.

Spectators are encouraged to bring water guns and water balloons to ensure the racecourse and teams stay soaked. Sponsors ask that balloons be tossed underhanded.

Bathhouse Soapery is once again the presenting sponsor. An awards ceremony following the event is scheduled for 11 a.m. in Hill Wheatley Plaza.

The traditional Judging of the Tubs in Hill Wheatley Plaza will take place at 6 p.m. May 31. Judges this year are Steve Arrison, Leysa Lowery, Brian Leonard, Tammy Clampet, Marianne Chartrand, Mary Zunick, Robert Zunick, Maxwell Blade, Davis Tillman, Don Gooch, Charlene Simon, Justin Simon, Ed Davis and Bobby Graham.

The event celebrates Hot Springs' past and honors the late Stueart Pennington, a well-known downtown businessman.

Teams push wheeled bathtubs down Central Avenue and are subjected to ever-changing and tongue-in-cheek rules.

Any authentic new or old bathtub may be entered. Tubs must be no smaller than 48 inches long and 24 inches wide. The tub's wheels must be no bigger than 30 inches in diameter on axles no more than 44 inches wide. Casters and rollers are prohibited. Because tubs are pushed by their teams, no motors or mechanical devices are allowed.

Each team must consist of five members -- a captain, who rides in the tub, a Bath Towel Attendant, a Bath Mat Attendant, a Soap Attendant, and a Loofah Mitt Attendant. All team members must be over 18 years old and must sign a liability release form prior to the start of the race.

During the race, each team member must keep one hand on the tub at all times while holding their designated item in the other hand. If any team member drops their item, the tub must stop until that team member retrieves the item. According to the release, the team must then "make one complete circle of the tub before the team can restart the tub." If any team member lets go of the tub for any reason, the tub must stop and all attendants must change positions before the tub restarts.

Each team crossing the finish line must still have in its possession the bar of soap, bath mat, loofah mitt and bath towel or else be disqualified.

Bathtubs must be full of water at the start of the race and have at least 10 gallons of water left in the tub at the finish line. Judges have the final say on how the volume of water is measured and "Anyone who argues with a Judge will never be allowed to bathe on Central Avenue again, or until another Arkansan is elected President of the United States of America, whichever comes first."

Additional rules specify that team members pushing the tubs must wear hats and suspenders. Water balloons, costumes and race strategies are encouraged. The judges have final say in all areas of the race.

Each division's winning team will receive a traveling winner's trophy -- The Pennington Cup. Individual team members will receive prizes and three additional trophies will be given for the Most Original Tub, the Most Spirited Tub and the Best Overall Tub.

"The races were begun 14 years ago as the Stueart Pennington Running Of The Tubs, and Mr. Pennington will still be honored as the motivating force behind the event with the awarding of the Stueart Pennington Cup to the winning teams," Solleder said in the release. "Mr. Pennington was a longtime downtown merchant who pushed for the bathtub races to acknowledge Hot Springs' rich history as a world-renowned thermal-bathing destination."

Call Solleder at 501-321-2027 for more information.

Local on 05/19/2019