Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I shot the photo (above) back in 1983 or '84 at the Coconut Grove Bed Race.

I didn't get the name of the woman who rode on the bed that day, but I'm sure that she still has nightmares more than 25 years later.

This weekend, the Coconut Grove Bed Race will once again take to the streets.

The race, which was first run sometime in the late 70's, was started by Grove merchants as a way to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy telethon.

Like the annual King Mango Strut Parade, the race has certain "inmates take over the asylum" atmosphere about it.

The race returned to the Grove last year after a hiatus of of 6 or 7 years.

In 1988 Miami Herald staff writer Frank Cerabino perfectly captured the flavor of the race that year.
The 10th Coconut Grove Bed Race rolled through town Sunday, turning Bayshore Drive into Dade County's hormonal epicenter for an afternoon and proving once again that charity can be fun and lunacy's trap door opens up to the Grove.

"A quick survey of the crowd yields: dogs in sunglasses, a sidewalk saxophone player tooting on his alto horn while wearing plastic gloves -- safe sax -- and a bare-chested man wearing the quintessential Grove outfit: black bicycle shorts, a beeper and a 13-foot Burmese python around his neck.
Big Fannie Annie, a 450-pound stripper who paraded in a bed pulled by her colleagues at Follies International, a nude dancing bar in Hialeah, was a real crowd-pleaser.

"She's big in Hialeah," explained club security guard Frank LaBrada.

Annie, in fact, is big everywhere.

Then there's the gang at Mario's Italian Restaurant in North Miami, entering their high-calorie racing machine, "the Pepperoni Wagon."

A person can get indigestion just looking at this machine. We're talking pepperoni pizza hubcaps, pepperoni sticks hanging from the bed rails, and a 31-inch pepperoni pizza riding as a centerpiece on their bed.

"We made it at 2 a.m.," said worker Rob Egert. "It's getting a little overdone now."

The sweltering afternoon not only cooked the pizza, it also melted the face off the sphinx ice sculpture the Hyatt Hotel had on its extravaganza -- Cleopatra Marches into the Grove.

Cleopatra, perched behind the melting sphinx, got a rope- pulled ride from 10 slaves and eight slavettes. The Hyatt bed took first prize in the parade competition.
"The parade is better than the race," said spectator Susan Casalotti, 28. "People throw stuff at you during the parade."

Casalotti and her friend Karen Stracener, 23, got thrown the following items: a "Don't Panic" button from Federal Express, a garter from Follies International, a visor from Panama Jack's, a balsa wood airplane from Aviation Sales, and a key chain from Cellular One telephone company.

The centerpiece for nearly all the beds was a healthy young woman in a skimpy bathing suit.
Cerabino capped off his story with this bit of sad news: "For the first time in the bed race's 10-year history, riders weren't permitted on the beds. Liability concern has finally taken its toll on the Coconut Grove Bed Race."

This year, however, riders are allowed back on the beds.

And perhaps that's because the race now has a sponsor.

This month the Miami Herald reported that "a group of medical professionals and personal-injury lawyers, known...as 1-800-411-PAIN," bought naming rights to the race.

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