A record crowd turned out in downtown Hot Springs to witness the 13th Annual Steuart Pennington’s World Championship Running of the Tubs on Saturday morning according to the event’s organizers. Dripping wet Oompa-Loompas, Mario Brothers, and a wide variety of other cosplaying members and spectators all joined in on the wet fun as various odd charters race in their bathtubs down Central Avenue.
Participating in the event are various teams composed of local businesses, law enforcement agencies, civic organizations, and churches with remastered tubs as their vehicle of choice along Central Avenue the length of Bathhouse Row. The race will begin at the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa.
The 18 teams that participated in this year’s race included the returning Austin Weirdos, an out-of-state group from Austin Texas, who was also cheered on by crowds carrying coolers of water balloons and Super Soakers.
Director of Marketing for Visit Hot Springs Bill Solleder, declared that it was “hands-down the largest event in its history.” Visit Hot Springs, along with presenting sponsor Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium, sponsors the annual race.
“I have hopes to continue to grow the event next year and I have big dreams to one day have a celebrity opener like the St. Patrick’s parade,” Solleder said. A major highlight this year, according to Solleder was watching the Riser Ford team win Traditional Tub for the third consecutive year. And despite the Lakeside Rams’ tub losing two wheels nearing the finish line, he said the races went off without a hitch.
“Our blooper reel was when the Lakeside Rams’ front wheels fell off and the captain came torpedoing out of the tub and tucked and rolled like a gymnast,” he said. “They crossed the finish line with just two wheelchair wheels.”
Solleder added that teams did not shy away from pranking other teams and bribing judges with gifts and sweets this year.
“The Hot Springs Fire Department reclaimed the Battle of the Badge, but I witnessed a policeman spreading Vaseline on the fire department tub’s steering wheel,” he said.
Three-time ROTT judge Marianne Chartrand said she was thrilled to take part in the event that represents the diversity of the community.
“This is just such a different event that brings everyone together and represents how unique Hot Springs is,” she said.
The Pennington family was well-remembered, honored, and well-represented at the event according to Solleder. Frances Pennington, Steuart Pennington’s wife, presented the traditional and modified tub winners with the Pennington Cups.
The winners of the 13th Annual Steuart Pennington’s Running of the Tubs are:
Modified Tub – Hot Springs Police Department
Traditional Tub – Riser Ford
Most Original Tub – Habitat for Humanity
Most Spirited Tub – Window Mart
Best Overall Tub – Peter’s Paint and Flooring