By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(June 13, 2019) Three familiar faces will stroll down Main Street donning shower caps and bathrobes during the 30th annual Berlin Bathtub Races this Friday.
Volunteers Bill Hoshal, Kenny Tomaselli and Mike Wiley are preparing for the upcoming event, but Wiley said it was originally just for fun.
“So it was supposed to be just a dare for one year, but that was 10 years ago,” Wiley said.
Wiley said at a business after hours roughly a decade ago, terrycloth bathrobes were raffled off. Wiley added Hoshal won a robe during that event. Wiley said he was able to get one for himself, and Tomaselli was also able to get ahold of one.
He added they had the bathrobes embroidered to feature “huge rubber ducks,” and they also obtained shower caps and soap on a rope to complete the look.
“It’s a lot of fun and we really enjoy it,” Wiley said.
While the trio has no official name, he said “we’ve been called the three stooges.”
Wiley said he has plans to continue the tradition wearing the famous bathrobe and shower cap.
“As a matter of fact I obtained some new shower caps recently,” Wiley said.
However, Wiley said the joy that he brings others is what he loves most about the event. He added he’s become somewhat of a known figure during the race.
“I’ve had a child ask me for my autograph,” Wiley said. “The only time I’ve ever bee asked for my autograph.”
The men also wear many shower caps during the Berlin Bathtub Races, and often lend a helping hand with security or running errands.
Wiley added he sometimes needs to step because “there’s always the people that have to sit on the other side of [the hay barrels] or dangle their legs.”
The event takes place from 5-8 p.m. on Main Street in downtown Berlin. Following the parade, which goes from the visitors center to the bank and back, the drivers and pushers will race their bathtubs.
In addition to the parade, Wiley said Former Worcester County State’s Attorney Joel Todd would also play the bagpipes.
When asked how the Berlin Bathtub Races benefits the overall fabric of the town, his answer was simple.
“It’s another unique different event,” Wiley said.
Jesse Turner, former owner of the Berlin Shoebox, started the race in 1989 as a rivalry between town businesses.
Larnet St. Amant, executive director of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, agreed, and said she’s looking forward to Friday’s festivities.
“It’s just a sight to see,” she said.
While the participation is capped at 30 people – 15 drivers and 15 pushers, St. Amant said she expects the spectator turnout to be well attended.
“[We’re] hoping for record breaking crowds,” St. Amant said.
Berlin’s Chamber of Commerce re- quires competitors adhere to the fol- lowing parameters when assembling the bathtub vehicles:
- The driver and rider must be 16 years of age or older.
- The wheels can’t be larger than 26 inches.
- Bathtub must have brakes and steering.
- There must be at least one rider in the bathtub, and they’re required to wear a helmet.
- No more than one person can push, and closed toe shoes are required.
- The bathtub must hold a minimum of two gallons of water.
- The tub must be under control of a pusher at all times, and may not be re- leased until tub has come to a complete stop.
- Crossing the yellow line during the races will result in disqualification of that heat.
Additionally, there is no limit to the number of wheels on a bathtub, and businesses are permitted to advertise on the side of the bathtub, according to the chamber’s website.
The winner of the race on Friday will receive the “Winner Take All” trophy, bragging rights and a free banner ad- vertisement on the chamber’s website, according to the Berlin Chamber of Commerce.
Registration costs $75 for members and $125 for non-members.
For more information about the event, call 410-641-4775, or visit the Berlin Chamber of Commerce’s web- site, berlinchamber.org/events/bath- tub-races/.