Hockinson rolls out the beds for festival

Inaugural bed races add to energy, enjoyment Saturday during crowded Hockinson Fun Days

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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HOCKINSON — Allen Bray didn't know exactly what "bed races" would entail when he first heard they'd be included in this year's Hockinson Fun Days.

He didn't need to.

"I was, like, 'That sounds kind of dangerous. Count me in,'?" Bray said.

Bray, who lives in Vancouver, competed Saturday with the Holy Rollers, a group from Hockinson's Elim Lutheran Church.

They were among five teams that took part in the chaotic event, a part of Hockinson Fun Days for the first time.

It likely won't be the last time.

"I had a lot of people say they want us to do it again," said the race's organizer, Erin McClelland.

Here's how it works: A team of five people pushes a hospital gurney down the street, with one person on the gurney wearing pajamas.

Team members trade places (and pajamas) at a series of stations along the way, before racing back to the finish line.

Saturday's races pitted two teams against each other in each heat, using a pair of donated gurneys. Competitors raced down a stretch of Northeast 182nd Avenue on a simple out-and-back course.

The event drew competitors of all kinds, from members of the Hockinson High School football team to a local Cub Scout pack of mostly second- and third-graders. The day's ultimate champion: local Boy Scout Troop 359.

"They really are well-organized and prepared. Always prepared," said Hockinson resident Erica Vossler, another member of the Holy Rollers, who were edged out by the Boy Scouts in the day's final race.

Organizers hope the bed races are a bigger draw next year.

Vossler said she'd like to see more of the area's churches and schools involved.

Teams may build and decorate their own beds in the future. (The two gurneys used Saturday were purchased online and donated by Elim Lutheran Church, McClelland said.)

The bed races followed the Hockinson Fun Days parade, Saturday's main attraction with about 50 entries and 900 people participating.

The entire spectacle left many people marveling at just how big the annual celebration of this small community has become after more than two decades.

"It started really small," Vossler said. Now, "I can't believe how many people turn out for it."

Said McClelland: "I think Hockinson Fun Days is good old-fashioned Americana."