The Tri-City Water Follies celebrates a half-decade of hydroplane races this weekend, and that is no small feat.
Between 70,000 and 80,000 people are expected to swarm along the Columbia River between today and Sunday for the HAPO APBA Gold Cup and Over the River Air Show.
It is amazing to think how far this signature event has come in 50 years.
It started in 1965 with a handful of community leaders trying to figure out a way to showcase the community’s sunny weather and proximity to the Columbia River. The group traveled to watch the hydroplane races at Lake Tahoe and returned with a plan to bring the roaring boats to the Tri-Cities.
Their idea has turned into the greatest tourism boost ever for the Tri-Cities, with Water Follies weekend bringing in millions of dollars at local hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other businesses. Not many communities can boast of being on the unlimited hydroplane circuit. The Tri-Cities shares that honor this summer with Madison, Ind.; Seattle, Detroit and San Diego.
To make this 50th anniversary even more special for the community, the H1 Unlimited organizers decided that this year the Tri-Cities would host the APBA Gold Cup, which it has not done since 1984.
The prestigious trophy, which is the oldest motorsports trophy in the world, has been awarded exclusively in Detroit since 1990.
It makes sense, though, that during the Tri-Cities’ golden anniversary of hosting hydroplane races, it would also be allowed to play host to the Gold Cup.
But it took some lobbying.
In the end, H1 Unlimited Chairman Steve David said that in talking with their race sites, everyone agreed unanimously that the “long-standing support” by the Tri-City community made us “deserving of the opportunity” to have the Gold Cup honor.
The dedication and enthusiasm by Tri-Citians who band together for this one special event every year in our community is inspiring. It’s an example of how much can be accomplished when there is a shared vision in the community and a willingness to work together.
Admission to the races is free today, and children 5 and younger are admitted for free all weekend. A two-day pass, good for Saturday and Sunday, is $25 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. One-day passes are $15 for adults and $5 for kids July 25 and $25 for adults and $5 for kids on July 26. Three-day event passes and pit admission cost $45.
Tickets are available at Tri-City Albertsons and Safeway stores, and at the gate. Free kids tickets are available at Jack in the Box restaurants.
This is a special year for the community, so head to the river this weekend and celebrate 50 years of Tri-City pride and commitment.