He helped save this year's Water Follies for free. 'He's a perfectionist.'

A 76-year-old Water Follies veteran is being hailed as helping save Water Follies and saving thousands of dollars while doing it.

Clarence Martin helped repair docks and benches pulled away and damaged by high flood waters this year along the Columbia River’s shores.

The flooding had crumbled the shore and damaged the event’s infrastructure, placing the Tri-Cities’ biggest annual event at risk.

Martin helped put back up the concrete pads, and fabricate and attach docks for the hydroplane racing.

Pit crew chairman Juan Marin said that without Martin’s involvement, the pits would have had to use backup plans or spend upwards of $30,000 on labor. —

Martin’s volunteer track record is a perfect example for the public, Marin said.

Clarence Martin weld
Volunteer Clarence Martin, 76, welds a section of the replacement steel dock walkway recently for the upcoming Tri-Cities Water Follies boat racing event in Columbia Park. Water Follies

“Clarence is the kind of guy that once he gets his teeth into a project there’s no letting go,“ Marin said. “He’s a perfectionist.”

The Bowling Green, Kentucky native came to the Tri-Cities in the early 1960s. He attended his first Water Follies in 1967, and he fell in love.

Martin has volunteered for the Water Follies since when he first saw the races.

“It’s been a long time and it’s fun,” Martin said.

After retiring from Ray Poland & Sons Construction in Pasco after 40 years, Martin put his skills to work for the boat races.

“Once I retired, I did have a lot more time,” Martin said.

Clarence Martin crane
Volunteer Clarence Martin, 76, signals to a crane operator recently while working on relocating a concrete pad used to attach walkways for floating docks used in the upcoming Tri-Cities Water Follies boat racing event in Columbia Park. Courtesy Tri-Cities Water Follies

Marin said he helped with welding, planning for the pit projects, gathering equipment and replacing the fallen concrete pads. The crew needed a welder, so Martin assisted with a skill he hadn’t used in over 15 years.

Poland & Sons also lent their equipment for the job.

Martin knows his volunteer work is a necessity for the community and the event. He believes sharing your hard work is important, he said.

But he also said volunteering has been of the most rewarding experiences of his life.

“It makes you feel good when other people come and help you,” Martin said.