he Rolling Slumber Bed Race brought the thrill of victory and the comfort of clean sheets to Brunswick last Saturday.by Chris Chase
Coastal Journal Staff
BRUNSWICK — Running a vigorous footrace and staying in bed past noon might seem to be on opposite ends of the activity spectrum. But thanks to the Brunswick Downtown Association (BDA), this is no longer the case.
The second annual Rolling Slumber Bed Race took place on Nov. 17, with nine teams competing to see who could have the fastest bed in the midcoast. Competing on Park Row in Brunswick as a part of the Early Bird sale, the teams raced down the street, drag-race style, pushing their homemade contraptions. At the end of the track, each team had to somehow turn their full-size bed 180 degrees to race back to the finish.
Although there was a set of guidelines on the size each bed had to be, the beds themselves varied from sleeker designs built for speed to large, ungainly contraptions decked out in a variety of ornaments. Maine State Music Theater brought a large bed decorated with stars, with each team member dressed as a famous character from theater. Thorton Oaks used swiveling wheels to ensure the fastest turns possible, while Shift’s “The Laying Hens” used a makeshift bike frame with a controllable front wheel to help them steer.
The entire event was the brainchild of the BDA, and was started in an effort to bring people downtown. Tracy Coughlin, the marketing director for the BDA, was on hand helping to both organize the event and try and ensure no one was steamrolled by wayward furniture.
“We got a great response last year, so we doubled it this year,” said Coughlin. “We saw other communities do it, so we thought, ‘Hey this is great, let’s do it here.’”
Beds as a racing vehicle were a natural progression from the idea of the Early Bird sales, where many people reluctantly leave their comfy beds to get the best deals possible. This way, they got to stay in bed and participate as well.
In addition to the strict racing component, there was also a style contest, judged by a cadre of “celebrity” judges, including town manager Gary Brown and WMTW’s Thema Ponton.
That contest was won by Maine State Music Theater, for their detailed bed and well-made costumes.
The competition during the race was fierce. The races followed a simple elimination pattern: Teams would be matched up against each other, and the first one to cross the line would move on, with the loser being eliminated.
After several photo finishes, it came down to team “Cool as a Moose,” sponsored by the store of the same name, and Shift of Maine’s “The Laying Hens.” “The Laying Hens” had looked promising in the quarterfinals, but had sustained heavy damage during a turn. With bent and even missing wheels, they didn’t stand a chance against “Cool as a Moose.”
Even with the setback, they plan on coming back next year with a better, stronger bed, in hopes of taking home the gold.
“We’ll make mods again and come back next year,” said Courtney Ross of “The Laying Hens.” The name of their team stemmed from their business, which supports sustainability. Beds led to lying down led to laying hens.
“We all just agreed it sounded right,” said Ross.
The bed was constructed by Jeff Smith from recycled parts he scavenged from various locations.
“The bike parts came from the dump, they were all recycled. That’s probably why the tires have all buckled,” said Smith with a laugh.
Shockingly, there is a shortage of detailed plans on how to make a bed into a racing vehicle. Smith said he just went with what felt right.
“It was a lot of trial and error,” said Smith.
With their overwhelming victory, team “Cool as a Moose” took home first for the second year in a row. For their efforts, the team received a set of small trophies alongside plenty of bragging rights.
“We’ll have one of the trophies on a display behind the counter,” said Missy Grillo, the manager of the store and the captain of their bed racing team. “We have the bed in the window, we keep it there the whole season.”
According to Grillo, they plan on repeating the performance next year.
“We’ll have to see what secrets we’ll pull out of our back pockets next year,” said Grillo. “We’re going for a dynasty.”
Although they plan on holding onto their title, they encouraged others to join and aim for an upset, in order to liven up the competition.
“We’d love to see more people next year,” said Grillo. “It’s a really fun event.”