Not just for sleeping Fanciful bed race draws 1,000 for Camp Happy Days

Dave Munday/staff After breaking down shortly after starting the race Sunday, the team called Till the Wheels Fall Off spray a team of MUSC physician’s assistant students called Too Cool for School with water cannons during Camp Happy Days’ third annual Bed Races in Hampton Park.

It’s not every day you see a bunch of guys in hazmat suits wheeling a caged gorilla through Hampton Park.

Another group of guys wearing yellow crowns was wheeling a big red foam popsicle alongside them.

Actually, they were racing — bed racing, to be exact.

These were two of the more than two dozen fanciful entries in Camp Happy Days’ third annual Charleston Bed Race on Sunday.

“It’s grown exponentially each year,” Happy Days Executive Director Eleanor Smythe said.

There was a bed with a working television attached to the foot, a bed with a tombstone (“RIP Chicken little here lies one bad mother clucker”), and a Scooby Doo themed entry.

About 1,000 people turned out to cheer them on, patronize the food trucks and enjoy perfect weather for an outing.

“I think it just shows the great support for Camp Happy Days,” Heather Thomas of Mount Pleasant said.

Happy Days conducts camps for sick children and their families.

“It’s a great time,” Elizabeth Atkinson of Charleston said.

She was cheering Colin Johnson, a first-year physician’s assistant student at the Medical University of South Carolina whose team, called Too Cool for School, raced a bed with a blue igloo on it.

Teams raced in pairs down a 100-yard stretch of road and back. A team called Till the Wheels Fall Off gave up on their duct-taped bed after a few yards and stopped, allowing Too Cool for School to race ahead.

But when the medical students drew near on their way back to the finish line, the disabled team jumped off their bed and sprayed their opponents with water cannons.

After the race, the judges gave Till the Wheels Fall Off the “What Were You Thinking?” award.

The Kickin’ Chicken team ran into a curb so hard a wheel was smoking, and they laughed as spectators jumped back from the barrier separating them from the road.

A team from Krispy Kreme posted the fastest time — 36.49 seconds — with a simple lightweight wooden frame with big spoked wheels and a light mattress. In the final race, they beat a team of counselors and volunteers from Camp Happy Days who called themselves Free Birds, a version of aging hippies who started off with peace signs and cardboard guitars but stripped the bed down to the frame by the final heat.

A team from Skirt magazine was recognized for posting the slowest time — 1 minute, 23 seconds — not counting the team that didn’t finish at all. But they won the award for best decoration with a brightred bed that looked like a little race car.

The Most Outrageously Decorated award went to a team called Thriller. Their bed featured a tombstone and ghoulish costumes.

Teams paid $125 each to race. Happy Days also got fees from the vendors, which included Home Team BBQ, Taco Boy, Jack’s Cosmic Dogs, King of Pops and New South Brewing.

New South and Miller donated beer, so Happy Days received all the money from beer sales.

Happy Days also got more than $2,500 from the People’s Choice voting. Baker Motor Co. raised $1,543, and Free Birds raised $1,103.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.