Hundreds of residents and visitors braved the Irishlike weather this past Saturday for the second annual Highland SpringFest. The weather held until just before the signature events of the festival, the Waiters’ Race and the Bed Race, both of which had everyone cheering, lining the sidewalks and enjoying some old-fashioned community fun and competition.
“There are so many different things happening, spread out all through the hamlet, that it doesn’t look as big as it really is,” said Kate Jonietz, the chair of Highland Events Committee. Jonietz and a team of volunteers were busy getting the Bed Race teams lined up, in heats, in front of Town Hall.
The reigning champion, Mid-Hudson Cross-Fit, certainly looked the part, with a bed that included a mat, a dumbbell for a headboard and exercises bands wrapped around the foot of the bed-on-wheels. The team members also wore T-shirts that read “I Look Better Naked because I Cross-Fit.” They had nine other five-person teams (one driver and four who would push the bed) to contend with, including the decked-out Highland Police Department wearing prison jumpsuits, dark shades and pushing a police-car-fashioned bed-vehicle.
Then there was the Highland Fire Department, who had a mini-firetruck bed, complete with a siren that rang after the team members completed their “Chinese fire drill” and sped towards the finish line. There was the Squidwrench bed, made out to resemble Squidward of SpongeBob; and the Kingston Nissan bed, which sadly did not have Nissan-inspired steering and crashed into the sidewalk several times before arriving at the finish line. The Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union bed was decorated in cash, but also had a tough time making that tight turn towards the finish line.
At the stop sign, all of the team members, including the driver, had to stop their bed-vehicle and run a complete circle around it; then the driver had to turn around and race backwards.
After several rounds of competition, the final two were Mid-Hudson Cross-Fit and the Lloyd Police Department. It was a close race, but Cross-Fit pulled it out in the end, defending its previous title and taking home $500 in cash. The police received enough pillows for the entire department, and the Highland Volunteer Firefighters were awarded the Most Creative bed prize, to the tune of $250.
Katie Peura was there to celebrate the day and cheer on her son Nathan Peura and his fellow firefighters during the Bed Race. “I love the small-town feeling of this festival,” she said. “I know those boys were up all night responding to an accident and haven’t slept, but they’re here because they love their community. With everything that goes on in the world, this sense of community is very important.”
One resident, Jim Faucett, whom some dubbed the “Mayor of the Bed Races,” had designed his own red velvet top hat with springs attached that held up a miniature bed. “I like to be festive and see the community out and about,” he said.
“What I love about this is that there’s nothing political. It’s just about supporting your town, your local businesses and having fun with friends and neighbors,” said Denise Chiara.
There were vendors and raffles, dance shows and karate exhibitions, a deejay who was announcing the bed races and waiter races and then music that kept people dancing well into the night. “I just like the feeling of community togetherness and friendly competition,” said Rosalie Peplow, the longtime town clerk for Highland. “It’s so much fun!”
The event was sponsored by the Town of Lloyd Events Committee and the Highland Downtown Business Association.
Pillows off to all who made it such a fun and successful event, even with the rain coming and going. The weather didn’t appear to dampen anyone’s spirits, and people were literally dancing in the rain!