You can insert a rat race joke here, but the comedy practically will write itself when Spalding University hosts its 39th Annual Running of the Rodents this coming Thursday, April 14. With a ‘60s-themed race, “Peace, Love & Rats,” rodents named after musical icons (Carlos Ratana, anyone?) will compete in “The Most Exciting Two Seconds in Sports.”
At 11:30 a.m., a (human-scale) public parade along Third and Fourth Streets—complete with floats and decorated vehicles—will precede the Running of the Rodents, with parade participants dressed in tie-dyed t-shirts (but not tails) to mimic a peace demonstration. The races will take place immediately afterward on a .024-furlong racetrack (about 16 feet) at Spalding Downs, otherwise known as the Spalding University Center Building Ballroom, 824 South Fourth Street.
After the race is over and vermin safely stowed, lunch will be available.
Local news personalities Barry Bernson of Fox 41 and Dawn Gee of WAVE 3 will emcee the races. Steve Buttleman, official bugler of Churchill Downs, will announce each race with the traditional call to the post.
Special events taking place earlier during “Rat Week” include a penny war, a t-shirt tie-dye party, a cereal eating competition, a tug-of-war, water balloon tag and a pie fight.
Spalding University’s annual rat race, which has taken place since 1973 and gained fame in 1987 as a Trivial Pursuit question, serves as both a stress reducer and a unique method of teaching students about animal care as well as behavior modification techniques. The rodents are trained and cared for by Spalding students, faculty and staff.
The event is free and open to the public, and parking is free in all Spalding University lots. For more information, contact Liz Nethery at LNethery@spalding.edu .
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Photo: Flickr/surprise truck