Water Festival wheels into final weekend of activities

July 22, 2011 

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A rowdy crowd raised their water guns as 56th Beaufort Water Festival Commodore Bob Bible boarded a hospital gurney Friday to take a ceremonial ride down Bay Street.

Waiting at the finish line of the festival's annual Bed Race were volunteers ready to douse Bible with ice water -- a tradition the commodore knew to expect.

"Preparation was all mental because you know there's a bucket of 10-gallon, ice cold water waiting for you at the end," he said. "But then they went and dumped two buckets on me. That was the kicker."

The Bed Race has been part of the Water Festival for at least 17 years, according to organizers.

One by one, seven teams of five raced down a half-mile stretch of Bay Street between Harrington and Newcastle streets, their times averaging about one minute.

Each team consisted of four runners who pushed the bed -- or in most cases a hospital gurney -- and a single rider.

Spectators stand by to cheer and squirt participants with water guns.

"This is just so much fun for everybody, even the spectators," said Carolynn Beverly, a Beaufort resident who said she watches the event every year with her husband Mitch. "But don't come down here unless you don't mind getting wet."

Every year, the most elaborately adorned bed earns an award.

This year's prize went to the festival's title sponsor Hargray. Its theme was "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere." The team blasted the classic Jimmy Buffett song from a CD player and decorated their bed with hula skirts, Hawaiian leis and a fake parrot. On the front was a clock made of poster board with the hands pointing -- appropriately -- to 5 p.m.

Hargray teammate Patti DiSilvestre raised a hand in the air as her team wheeled her toward the finish line.

Among those pushing was Lila Konecny, who said she was pleased with her team's performance.

"I was running my fanny off," she said as she laughed with teammates. "I ran hard and strong. We had a great time."

First place for best time went to the Gullah Sentinel team, who finished the race in 53 seconds, followed by the Waters Edge at 59 seconds.

Water Festival activities continued Friday night with the annual River Dance, which included entertainment by the band Superglide and opened with the Broke Locals.

The 10-day festival will conclude Sunday.

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