By Rodger Holsinger
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – Penn State New Kensington campus chancellor held the first annual bed race on Saturday, Sept. 23.
Dr. Kevin Snider, the chancellor at Penn State New Kensington, said that he was looking for something unique to have people rally around for homecoming weekend. When he met with students about event ideas for the homecoming weekend, he suggested having the first bed race, which would set the campus apart from the others. He was hoping to create an event that would draw New Kensington alumni back to the campus to view the bed races and to see how the campus has progressed over the years.
Snider decided to host the event because the college that he attended, Indiana State, hosts a big race that has grown every year and has continuously brought back former students to view the bigger and better races. He has the same goal for the bed races at PSNK.
“The race took roughly about eight months to put together,” Snider stated. After receiving confirmation from students in March, the race went from being just an idea to the actual event that was held over homecoming weekend.
The setup of the event involved the student affairs office and took about twenty to thirty volunteers to get it up and running. The volunteers assisted by helping construct both the course and the beds, and they also helped to judge the race.
Penn State received financial aid from a Habitat for Humanity store, which donated the materials to build the beds. Snider also noted that the mayor of Lower Burrell volunteered to help out by judging the winners as they crossed the finish line.
There were nine teams that competed in the race. The teams represented pride groups like the Orange Pride, clubs such as the Business Club, and groups of friends who just wanted to compete in the race. Although the faculty did not participate as a team in the race, a few did jump in the race when the ninth team needed an opponent for the starting time heat.
The race was not just about being competitive; it had its comical moments as well. “I liked when the Crazy Bananas pulled up to the one challenge, where they had to eat the cookies, then forgot about the bed as it started to roll off into oblivion” Snider stated. The team that won the race was the Gym Class Heroes, with a time of two minutes and thirty seconds.
The first race turned out great. According to Snider, “Most people told me they had a great time and would do it again.” The only thing that he didn’t like about the race was that he thought there were not enough teams competing in it. Although a large gathering didn’t show up to view the first annual bed race, he is hoping to have one again next year and draw in a larger crowd.
“Next year I think we should have each team come up with a theme song to play as they are racing,” Said Snider as he contemplated changes to improve the race for next year. He also went on to suggest that next year may include better positioning of the grand stand for spectators. The teams will also be more involved during the heats by doing activities such as dancing and perhaps involving the community more by letting them sponsor a team.
Snider has a grand vision to continuously improve the bed races and the homecoming weekend itself so that the community and alumni can rally together and have some fun.