The Hot Springs Police and Fire Departments face off at the World Championship Running of the Tubs.
By Rebekah Hall | Photography by Caleb Shane | Shot on location in Hot Springs, AR
There is only one event in the world that boasts bathtubs on wheels and the opportunity to pelt members of the police and fire departments with water balloons: the World Championship Running of the Tubs in Hot Springs. And, for the first time since its inception 13 years ago, the World Championship Running of the Tubs event has closed registration due the overwhelming response for participation. With teams that represent four Arkansas counties and a variety of states, this world-famous race down historic Bathhouse Row promises fun for the entire family.
Visit Hot Springs Marketing Director Bill Solleder says their efforts to increase awareness and interest in the event have exceeded expectations. “We made a couple of the first changes in its history,” Bill explains. “One is the name. There is no other active tubs race on wheels that we can find in the world, so we decided to add ‘World Championship’ to the title and rebrand it.” The notoriety of “World Championship” garnered interest from ESPN; this year the races will be broadcast on the radio.
A highlight and highly anticipated Running of the Tubs race is a decidedly competitive one: the Battle of the Badge. The Hot Springs Police and Fire Departments face off in this delightfully silly race, and for the members of each department, winning the battle earns coveted bragging rights and a well-deserved break for two institutions that work tirelessly to ensure the safety of the Hot Springs community.
Ed Davis of the Hot Springs Fire Department notes that the Battle of the Badge offers unprecedented privileges. “It is the only time you can legally throw water balloons at police officers and firefighters,” Ed explains. “It’s about organizational pride, commitment to the community, supporting the economic health of downtown Hot Springs, and antagonizing our friends at the police department.”
The Hot Springs Police Department currently holds the Battle of the Badge plaque, and appreciates this opportunity as local law enforcement to share their flair for the outrageous. Corporal Kirk Zaner, public information officer for the Hot Springs Police Department says, “It humanizes our officers and lets people see us in a positive light. People often just see us as the tough, uniformed officers and this is a way in which we get to let our guard down and have fun.” Ed adds, “We all maintain our organizational identity but do so while drag racing a bath tub down Central Avenue. Even our most serious-minded firefighters chuckle at the thought of it!”
The Police Department also looks forward to “the great amount of fun and interaction that we have with our citizens,” Kirk notes. “Where else can you go and watch a bunch of police officers push a bath tub down the middle of the street? We can’t wait to have a little friendly completion with the Hot Springs Fire Department. We also have the best looking tub in the competition!”
Attendees will decide this for themselves on Saturday, June 2nd, as they cheer for the men and women of the Police and Fire Departments in a battle that’s a winning combination of community pride and hometown hilarity.
UPDATE: The Results are in!
Photography by David Yerby
The Hot Springs Police Department took home the trophy for World Champion Modified Division, but in a head-to-head battle, the Hot Springs Fire Department took home the coveted title of Battle of the Badge Champions.
Full list of winners:
BATTLE OF THE BADGE – Hot Springs Fire Department
WORLD CHAMPIONS TRADITIONAL DIVISION – Riser Ford Jaws 3 Team
WORLD CHAMPIONS MODIFIED DIVISION – Hot Springs Police Department
BEST OVERALL TUB – Peter’s Paint and Flooring
MOST ORIGINAL TUB – Habitat for Humanity
MOST SPIRITED TUB – Window Mart