It’s hard not to chuckle when a bed frame on wheels being pushed up Main Street in Richmondville collapses. It’s OK to laugh when even the team pushing the bed is able to joke about the malfunction.
“It’s going to be us they remember,” said Debi Bartholomew of her team’s memorable ending to this year’s bed race on Saturday, which is part of the 36th Richmondville Days celebration. The 15-second race up a blocked stretch of road in front of the firehouse is the big attraction in the three-day event and draws dozens of excited onlookers.
Richmondville resident Bartholomew had been part of a five-person team, with four people pushing and one riding on a wooden board across the frame, which in their case collapsed suddenly, sending pushers sprawling. After the accident, she sported a Band-Aid below her knee but she remained in high spirits and promised to return next year.
Teammate Mark Meringolo, of Earlton, said they plan on assembling their team again next year as “Bedbusters.”
“Anyone can come in first. We had style points,” he joked.
Meringolo added that their bed rider was smart to wear a helmet, with most of the previous riders lacking such.
Saturday’s festivities included a bounce house, food vendors, trolley rides and face painting.
The face painting was a hit with Jennifer Rightmyer’s three kids and their cousins. Prior to the abrupt dismantling of the bed, the kids were enjoying frozen treats outside the firehouse and watching the races.
“We never plan anything on this day and we come every year,” Rightmyer said, adding that her kids had really enjoyed the parade earlier in the day. “This is one of our big highlights of the year.”
Because the planning and implementation of the event involves so many people from the community, she said it is something people are really proud of and helps strengthen the local bond.
Her father-in-law, Richmondville Fire Chief Gary Rightmyer, stressed the importance of having a shared experience. “It brings people together and that’s what it’s all about.”
Even though he has been around since the first Richmondville Days, he wasn’t completely sure how the bed racing began, but acknowledged that it has become a highlight. The chief said he believed someone saw it somewhere else and they just adopted it.
He added that one of the strengths of the event is how much it mirrors the first Richmondville Days from decades ago. “That’s what’s nice about it,” he said. “It really hasn’t changed much.”
The event continues today with a pancake breakfast at the firehouse to benefit their uniform fund. There will be a pork dinner and at 2 p.m. the old mill wheel in the village will start turning again.
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