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The Grove Merchants Group, an organization of local business owners in Coconut Grove, brought back the Great Grove Bed Race on Sunday, following a six-year hiatus. The community event pits local businesses against each other as they race beds on wheels down a set course. The 2009 Bed Race planning committee improved participation, added ancillary events surrounding the race, and moved the course from Bayshore Drive to the Grove's main thoroughfare.
“[The merchants'] goal was to bring more people into the heart of the Grove, and my answer was to put the track exactly there,” said independent planner Daisy Lewis, president of Daisy Industries Inc., who the group hired to lead the planning committee. (The city’s chamber of commerce previously organized the event.)
Nearly 14,000 people—4,000 more than expected—attended the event throughout the day, which began around 11 a.m. with racers lining up on Commodore Plaza. The Junior Chamber of Commerce turned the side street into Pit Row with crosswalk painting on the street and staffers in traffic cone-style hats.
The race attracted 42 bed entries, 17 more than organizers expected. As a result, Lewis had to cut the length of the course from 660 to just 480 feet to keep the race within its originally scheduled time frame, from 2 to 5 p.m.
In an effort to extend the event’s reach to more people, Lewis added activities surrounding the race. A sold out Pajama Pub Crawl took place on Saturday night with 244 people stopping by seven of the Grove’s landmark bars, like the Taurus and SandBar Sports Grill, followed by the Ford Motor Company Pajama Party Sunday morning and the family-focused story time at the Bookstore in the Grove. “A lot of college kids do the crawl, and during the day the families are up and out early, so now we cross over more demographics [with the race] than we used to,” Lewis said.
At 2 p.m. the five-person teams—one rider and four pushers—raced two at a time, with Team SandBar taking home top honors. The Grove Merchants Group also presented awards for best overall design, best theme, best decorations, and best unique idea. Team Woomba won the latter award for its parody of Nadya Suleman (also known as the Octomom), with a woman riding on the hospital-style bed with 26 baby dolls that she later threw into the crowd.
The race ended 15 minutes earlier than expected when the racers' speed exceeded Lewis's expectations. The extra time in the schedule allowed the winners in each category to take a victory lap before the event wrapped up. The race raised about $7,000 for the Alonzo Mourning Charities. Additionally, a hand-painted headboard from Coconut Grove Gallery and Interiors is being auctioned off on the race's Web site through September 16. Proceeds from the sale will also benefit the charity.
Top sponsors of the event included the University of Miami Sleep Center and Homestead-Miami Speedway.