A rule change for pop-up canopies used on the Pasco side during Water Follies earned mixed reviews Sunday from spectators.
Some said the change requiring people to pack up their canopies set up on the shore in Wade Park each night -- instead of leaving them in place for the duration -- is unnecessary and makes it harder to enjoy the popular event. Others said the new arrangement is more fair.
It took effect last year, aimed at improving viewing access of the river and hydroplane races. Officials had received complaints from race-goers in the general admission area about canopies being set up and left empty for most of the weekend.
Santos DeLeon, 47, of Pasco, is among those against the rule change. He comes to the races regularly with a group of family and friends, and like hundreds of others on the Pasco side seeks protection from the blazing sun by setting up a canopy. About 30 people in his group were on hand late Sunday morning, with more on the way.
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The new requirement is a hassle and makes the experience more difficult, DeLeon said. He would be willing to pay a small fee to leave the canopy frame in place overnight.
Ted Kokorowski, 57, also wants to see the rule changed back. He lives in the Seattle area and has made the trek to the Tri-Cities each summer for the hydroplane races for decades.
He and his friends stay all weekend. "We've gotten to know many people," he said.
Most race-goers didn't mind the old canopy rules, Kokorowski said, relaxing beneath a small pop-up canopy.
"I think the people who are complaining are like a 10 to 15 percentile of the entire group here," he said.
Others thinks the change levels the playing field. The old rules stacked the deck against spectators who could only come later in the weekend, said Mike Wells, 47, of Kennewick, who watched the races with his daughter Miquela, 8, and Sharyle Martin, 48, of Kennewick, and her son A.J., 13.
Under a canopy nearby, Keith VanLear, 49, of Richland, ate lunch during a break between races. He doesn't have a problem with the rule change, he said.
Like Wells, he feels it's fair. "It should be first-come, first-served when you come down here. It should at least be that way on Sunday," he said. "I just think that's the right way. I always have."
Water Follies officials plan to review how rule changes went this year and see if adjustments are needed.
-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; email@example.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald