It was Christmas overload in Flagler Beach Saturday afternoon as the town hosted a double-header that began with the annual Christmas parade at 1 p.m. and didn’t end until almost dusk with the award ceremony for the third annual Flagler Fun Coast Bed Race.
The parade seemed to last long enough to stretch into next spring: it was an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sort of parade, including the usual vintage politicians, vintage cars, a half dozen churches with a demographic explosion of manger scenes (at least one of them featuring a live baby), dance troops, boy scout troops, bands, women’s and other clubs, the Turtle Patrol, Cappy the Clown (not in the parade, Cappy, but might as well have been), fire departments, cops, ambulances and other siren songs, a clump of would-be politicians–including one in his own towering Pope-mobile–an aging Superman, and then a procession of local businesses that would have seemed oddly out of place in a Christmas parade had it not been for the graces they were buying by launching candy and beads to throngs along the parade route. There may well have been a kitchen sink in there somewhere.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that there could very well have been more people in the parade than watching it, though the attending crowd was significant enough in the five or six central-most blocks by the pier and north of it that Flagler Beach could have called itself occupied from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The parade actually ended 75 minutes after it started, dispelling the rumor that it would not end until the three kings found their way to Bethlehem (assuming they made their way past Israeli check-points with all those mysterious packages).
Then it was off to the races.
Sixteen or 17 beds were entered this year, 15 actually raced, and 14 finished (Matanzas High School’s Interact Club’s bed had a malfunction and Houston couldn’t fix it). The race features exactly that: beds, on rollers, handled by teams of five, with one of the five having to be on the bed itself. The beds are raced down South Central Avenue for a couple of blocks, halting at four pit stops where the contestants must manage minor feats of luck and dexterity: at one of the stops, four teammates line up at a certain distance from their fifth teammate and shoot goldfish at his or her gaping mouth. They can’t stop until a goldfish makes it in there. At another stop the contestants must pick out the right sized pillow case from a bunch, fit it on a pillow than unfit it, and carry on. The race is timed, and beds race in pairs.
For a while it looked as if the Flagler County School Board’s Graduate One bed, made to look like a school bus, was going to be the winner. It clocked in at an impressive 4 minutes and 42 seconds, with Colleen Conklin, one of the school board members, as the rider and fellow-board member Trevor Tucker as one of runners. (Sue Dickinson was there but out of action due to a recent foot injury, and Andy Dance showed up soon after the race.) But Snack Jack’s Jamaican Bobsled Team proved too difficult to beat for everyone: they clocked in at 4:21, and Sea Ray Boats’s Island Hoppers bed came in second, at 4:40, just two seconds ahead of the school bus.
Here’s a photo gallery that stretches almost as long as the parade. Merry Christmas. (For best, large-screen viewing, click on one of the images rather than on the slideshow link. The images will be identified later.)