The world’s fastest bathtub will be determined on Sunday, and in the lead-up to that, there will be all kinds of other activity in and around the downtown as part of the Nanaimo Marine Festival.
Bathtub Weekend gets underway Friday, July 19, and culminates Sunday with the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race.
“We’re looking forward to having the best street fair and Bathtub Weekend celebrations ever in Nanaimo,” said Kevan Shaw, president of the Victoria Crescent Association.
The Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society is the lead organizer for the weekend and society commodore Greg Peacock said preparations are going well.
“We’re doing our best,” he said. “I really do have an awesome board of directors working with me.”
The weekend includes a launch party Friday at Maffeo Sutton Park, with a concert headlined by Big Sugar. On Saturday there will be the Shaw Sailpast on Wheels Fun Parade through the downtown, the Victoria Crescent Street Fair, free concerts in the park and then the Quality Foods Festival of Lights fireworks. On Sunday, the bathtub race starts and ends at Maffeo Sutton Park.
This year’s 53rd annual Nanaimo Marine Festival honours volunteer Margaret Johnson, who has been involved with every one of the bathtub races.
“This year, we salute a woman affectionately referred to by our tubbers as ‘Mom,’ the matriarch of our society, Margaret Johnson,” noted the Bathtub Weekend program. “Margaret and her entire family have worked tirelessly since the first race in 1967 to ensure the safety, camaraderie and execution of Marine Festival and Bathtub Weekend.”
Former commodore Bill McGuire was a big part of the decision-making to honour Johnson, said Peacock, and so after McGuire’s death in late December the society felt it was still important to follow through with its plans to honour Johnson with souvenir coins, parade marshal duties and tulips.
McGuire will be honoured separately, as the world’s biggest bathtub has been re-christened the SS Bill McGuire and its fresh paint job will be shown off at Saturday’s parade.
“This is the first year without him,” Peacock said. “We’re finding little things that Bill did that you didn’t really even know he did, but without him, you’re like, ‘what are we going to do?’”
Peacock said the park will be hopping this year with almost a dozen food trucks, many other vendors and some new entertainment additions including super-fast remote-controlled boats demonstrated by Water’s Edge RC.
Festival activities at Maffeo Sutton Park will happen 4-11 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
The parade is Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and leaves from the Victoria Crescent Street Fair. This year’s street fair, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., will feature a giant slide, bouncy castle, face painting, car show, watermelon eating contest, egg balancing, servers’ race and other entertainment.
Shaw said Bathtub Weekend livens up the Victoria Crescent neighbourhood every summer.
“It brings lots of people to the area and we sure enjoy all those smiling kids’ faces and their parents and everybody that comes down to enjoy this great weekend,” he said.
The fireworks happen Saturday at 10 p.m. on the waterfront at Maffeo Sutton Park.
About 40 tubs are anticipated to take part in Sunday’s world championship race which starts at 11 a.m.