new kids on the block

By on September 29, 2008

By Emory Williamson

With the smells of funnel cakes and hot dogs floating in the air, freshman Amber Burns and her team have all the essentials for the perfect race.

Matching University of Louisville uniforms – with plastic helmets included – running shoes and a bed.

A bed?

Bed racing was introduced this Saturday at the 5th annual Block Party, held on U of L’s Belknap campus, kicking off a three-week long medley of Homecoming events, ranging from foam parties to a semi-formal dance.

The event also tied in with the university’s first Family Weekend, which brought the families of students and faculty to campus. With temperatures in the mid-70s and no precipitation, the Block Party was more enjoyable for some, including U of L’s ROTC member Ed Naughton and his two-year-old son, Patrick.

“If you’re familiar with last year, it’s about 50 degrees warmer and it’s not raining,”

said Naughton, who quickly looks back at his son who is trying to flee the “Jump in the Box” toddler moon bounce. “He’s a very cautious kid,” he says with a smile.

While Naughton had difficulty getting his child to stay in, others, such as Jan Creed, couldn’t get their kids to come out.

“This gives him something to do that’s fun,” said Creed of her six-year-old son, Sean, who is fixated with the basketball goal inside the moon bounce. “The hard thing is just getting them to leave.”

Other families enjoyed the free food and live entertainment.

Charese Taylor, a graduate student at U of L’s Kent School of Social Work, was kept busy watching over her four-year-old niece, Angel, who was doing the “Soldier Boy” dance by her side.

“It’s something for everybody to do,” said Taylor of the event, as Angel pulls on her skirt and asks her to get on one of the rides.

Meanwhile, back at the bed racing event, Burns, whose Porter Scholars team had claimed the first two matches, lies on the bed and prepares for her teammates to push her down the roadway in hopes of being named bed racing champs.

She clings tightly to the bed posts as the two teams take off in a race for the finish line.

As the wheels squeak against the asphalt, their bed quickly veers to the right and knocks over a couple of street cones, but the team adjusts and steers the bed back on course.

Burns clinches tighter and can barely look as hundreds of screaming on-lookers cheer them on.

The on-looking crowd comprised of students, faculty and family members is something Paul Latham wants to see.

Latham, executive homecoming chair for the Student Activities Board, said he sought an increase in attendance from last year when the event was held at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and many students stayed away due to the location and poor weather conditions.

According to Latham, SAB decided to move the event back to its original location because other locations were so far away and inconvenient for students.

“We decided to move it back here just for the atmosphere, as far as being on campus and closer to students,” said Latham, a senior business marketing/management major. “It’s just easier for [students] to come here.”

Latham said he hopes to continue the event at the Third and Brandeis location and that it continues to grow in popularity.

“We hope to continue growing so it actually becomes a full-blown carnival,” he said.

Some event participants, such as retired chef Jim Myers, who worked at the funnel cake booth, noted the carnival-like experience as a line of 70-deep awaited free funnel cakes.

“I haven’t been able to look up,” said Myers, who after four hours of serving nearly 1,700 funnel cakes, took a break to smoke.

Although Myers was kept fairly busy, he said he enjoyed the experience.

“This is fun,” he said. “I’ve heard more pleases and thank yous today than I did in my own restaurant.”

Although many were waiting in line for the funnel cakes, just a mere hundred yards away, others were waiting to see who would claim the bed racing title.

Burns keeps a vice grip on the bedposts, but now looks and sees the finish line in sight.

And as the bed reaches the finish, Burns and her teammates celebrate as they are announced champions of the bed racing competition.

“I just held onto that top but it was horrifying because [my team] almost knocked me off,” said Burns, an English major. “That’s when I screamed.”

The winning team seemed pleased with the results considering their meager training in bed racing.

“I called my athletes up and I said ‘athletes I need you,'” said Gabe Baawo, a sophomore sports administration, of the team. “We said we’re going to shoot for the moon, but if we miss it then land amongst the stars.”

-Brittney Bruner and Paige Quiggins contributed to this story.

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