A frenzy of splashing and dashing officially broke in Hermiston’s new festival street during Funfest on Saturday.
The annual summer celebration in downtown Hermiston included a ribbon-cutting for the new street followed by Splash and Dash 2018, a race between teams of three pushing one team member around cones in a wheeled tub full of water.
“We hope this becomes an annual tradition,” city parks and recreation director Larry Fetter said. “The winners will have their name engraved on this very nice trophy and we hope to add names every year.”
The first spot on the trophy belongs to Hermiston’s Rotary Club, which won the championship heat against the U.S. Air Force team.
Rotary president Tony Garberg and team members Haylee Harper and Brad Wayland said they hoped the city continued the tradition every year so that Rotary could defend its title.
“It was a blast,” Harper said.
Garberg said they didn’t practice ahead of time, and Wayland gave credit to “old age wiles” for their win.
Eight teams total competed, and Umatilla County Fire District 1 was on hand with a truck to refill tubs with a fire hose and shower contestants with extra water as they pulled the tubs around a series of orange traffic cones. There was a Seattle Seahawks-themed team and the “Hawaiian bobsled team.” The Hispanic Advisory Committee was represented by the Three Amigos — city councilor Clara Beas Fitzgerald, city council candidate Mark Gomolski and HAC chair Jose Garcia.
Patty Ortiz, Rosie Delgado and Ana Pimeyro named their team “Amo ser Latina,” a Spanish play on words that meant both “I love to be Latina” and “I love to be the bathtub.” They said they didn’t do much to prepare, other than having enthusiasm and positive thinking and matching T-shirts.
“We did our shirts, that’s a start, right?” Pimeyro said.
Before the Splash and Dash, city manager Byron Smith and city planner Clint Spencer cut the ribbon on the new festival street. Smith said the street had been talked about for at least 10 years before it became a reality, and credited Spencer with putting it into motion. He also thanked a long list of other contributors, including the contractors and engineers, the city committee that worked on the design and the downtown merchants who were supportive of the project despite the impact of construction the last few months.
“I know it wasn’t pleasant all the time, but thank you for your patience,” he said.
While the festival section of Northeast Second Street hosted the tub races and live entertainment, Funfest stretched down several blocks of Main Street. Crowds downtown listened to bands, bought food and snow cones, watched lawnmower races, got free popsicles handed out by Santa Claus and participated in activities like the bouncy house and dunk tank while trying to stay cool.