You can hear the throngs of people as they crowd onto the banks of the Arkansas. “Anything that floats that’s not a boat Hooligan Race” is about to begin.
The announcer broadcasts, “The parade of destruction is on.” Hooligans don their costumes, they feel the adrenaline rush, the prospect of glory, maybe even a chance to snatch a “prize bag” hanging from a wire above the river.
They hear the Siren song of the river, “Take the paddle, we’re halfway there. Paddle strong, I’ll take you there.” This isn’t the first time the voice of the Arkansas hoodwinked self-assured Hooligans into believing her fluvial, fraudulent promises.
Hooligans once transported by current, high spirits and encouraging roars of the crowd suddenly become aware things are going terribly wrong. Now, raucous laughter, whoops and hollers replace the crowd’s adoration as their watercraft begins to founder. Desperately, Hooligans perform a river ballet attempting to stay afloat just before it all falls apart and is swept away at the big drop just before the F Street bridge.
Now, reduced to flotsam, insignificant, irrelevant, aground, a ghost vessel of unfulfilled promises disintegrates on rocks and sand. Cheers silenced, another Hooligan rests, thrashed on the banks of the river of time. But, Hooligans never accept defeat. Hope floats, optimism defeats adversity, and there’s always next year.
At the risk of being booed off the page in a town that proudly preserves architecture, fading advertising signs and artifacts of the past, I would like to voice, respectfully, what will probably still be an unpopular opinion.
I admit I do not embrace all wistful memories of events, signage and artifacts of times gone by. I’m just … selective. My home looks like a museum for yesteryear’s abandoned, unappreciated, discarded relics – that includes myself.
That said, “FIBArk” is such an unfortunate name given to Salida’s wonderful annual river festival. “First in Boating on the Arkansas”(?). Who thought of this? Nobody takes responsibility for it. Sounds to me like a jingle a self-serving salesman came up with for his used boat lot.
Like my rant in an earlier letter, where I said I think the irrelevant, painted sign “Public Service Co. of Colorado” on the SteamPlant needs to be replaced with new relevant, imaginative signage, I’ll now add the acronym FIBArk. This needs to be retired as well.
I know, sacrilege. But such a popular, fun event deserves a signature name that better describes the happening and specifically gives credit to Salida for pioneering and hosting this wonderful weekend celebration.
The kayak race course changed this year; why not take it further and let the acronym FIBArk fade into history with all respect and memorabilia associated with its origins on display at the Salida Museum.
A Salida-sponsored contest for a new name would be fun in itself. Here’s my entry: SHARKSAW (Salida’ Hooligans of the Arkansas Race and Kayaking Shock and Awe Weekend). Kinda catchy, better than FIBArk, don’t-cha think?
“Tinker” Paul Silver,