CAMDEN—With low temperatures after a freezing ice storm the night before, the U.S. National Toboggan Championships officially kicked off Saturday, February 8 and the more seasoned costumed toboggan teams combined warmth with pageantry this year. (Note: wigs always add that extra level of insulation and you can’t go wrong with a full body costume that hides extra long john layers).
The chute was closed for on Friday due to the rainy/icy weather, but Saturday’s sunny, frigid temperatures brought out all of the teams, ice shacks, tailgate parties and spectators. Camden’s “Mardi Gras on Ice” was once again, underway.
With a maximum number of 400 toboggan teams, this year was sold out, which made for plenty of downtime on the ice, while hundreds waited in line with toboggans for their chance to race. Up top, five food vendors kept the crowds fed while The Sea Dog Brewing Company provided a warm Beer Tent with cold brews for people to socialize.
What can we say about all the ice shanties, Eskimo Fishing Shelters, heated trailers and makeshift fire pits that dotted Hosmer Pond? It’s a locals’ hang out and always has been, but it’s a celebratory event where all spectators are welcome to come up, say hello, maybe even get a bite to eat and an adult beverage to share. Anyone in a ridiculous costume is that much more welcome.
Two bands livened up the scene with a high school steel drums band right in front of the infamous Big Kahoonas trailer (see embedded video). While the kids were banging the sticks in front, the teams were banging the Stupid Stick in back.
Reprising a tradition J.D. Orlando Construction Co. started 10 years ago, and co-sponsored by Meklin Excavation, a combination of well-known local musicians took a small stage by the boat landing to rock the Pond with a number of classic rock hits. Musicians Noah Plotkin and Jason Dean were on drums; Glenn Dubois on bass, and Emmett Lalor and Joel Watson played guitar. While their fingers were battling the frigid temps, they had the crowd warmed up by dancing.
Check out our gallery for more twice-as-ice photos of a spectacular day in Camden, Maine.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org