Bar Harbor Bed Races, November 9, 2013

photographs and text by Jennifer Steen Booher

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What happens in a tourist town when tourist season is over? In Bar Harbor, we have a Pajama Sale to celebrate. Stores open at 6am, with coffee, doughnuts, and discounts for anyone who comes in their pajamas. This year was the 19th annual Pajama Sale, and it has become enough of an institution that lots of us have bought special pjs just to wear for the sale. Some people go all out with curlers in their hair, sleep masks, and green face goop. At 10am, when I am usually shopped-out and starting to feel a little silly wearing my robe and slippers in broad daylight, there are Bed Races. A short segment of Cottage Street is barricaded off for the racecourse:

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The racers line up at the Village Green and parade down Main Street so everyone can admire the beds and the costumes. The lobster exoskeleton below is pieced together from plastic Solo cups:

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The Town Band joined in this year for the first time. Official racers have to follow the rules – strict bed dimensions, four people to push and one to ride on the bed – but the band was only there to make noise and have fun, so they loaded ‘er right up and marched along making music.

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They had the slowest time ever registered at the race, too, a fact which makes them very proud.

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Other teams took it quite seriously, planning out the lightest weight beds and the toughest wheels. This was the R.M.Foster team (defending champions from last year: they won again this year):

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These guys called themselves the “Beach Bums” – I think they were the Jackson Lab’s team. It was about 40 degrees out that day, so they only stripped down for the actual race. Brrr! That’s serious dedication to a costume theme:

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Governor’s is a sort-of-local restaurant (their closest branch is in Ellsworth):

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And this was the team from the Bar Harbor Inn, serving up a stuffed lobster (in a bed):

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Here’s the plastic-cup-lobster-woman again:

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And the wildly enthusiastic team from Camp Beech Cliff:

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It may have been dreamed up by the Chamber of Commerce to perk up post-tourist/pre-holiday spending, but frankly it’s a genius of a “holiday” that comes just as winter darkness is taking over, lets creativity fly, and has no cultural expectations, family baggage, or general holiday stresses. I mean really, how tense can you get rolling around town in your jammies?