Tube Float - History
2013 will mark the 36th year of the Tube Float ( now known as the Great Western Tube Float).
The first organized tube float was held on June 17, 1972. Then called the 'First Annual Big River Tube Float', I'lI doubt the organizers never envisioned the event becoming bigger every year or becoming a major fundraiser for the Parker Area Chamber of Commerce. The float started from Bluewater Lagoon to Big River, a six mile course attracting 187 entrants and the overall winner on the day (16 year old Fred Kimball, CA) taking 66 minutes to cross the finish.
The 2nd 'Annual Big River Tube Float' had 224 entrants and again took exactly 1 hour 6 minutes to finish. This time by 15 year old Chris Polson of California, was the overall winner. In an article that year The Parker Pioneer wrote "The high point of the race was the interest shown in group entries where numbers and not speed counted". The group winner that year was an entry under the name 'United Jiffy Mart' of Lakeside who had 49 floaters.
The following year, 1975, saw a name change to 'The 4th Annual Big River International Tube Float'. The reknown of the event had spread and even attracted 4 floaters from New York City. The group record from last years event was bettered by "the Lake Havasu City Tubes' team with 125 floaters.
1976 saw more growth, some major sponsorship, and another name change to 'The 5th Annual Big River International Innertube Race'. it was co sponsored by National Tubers Association and Olympia Brewing Co. The Event also attracted a record number of entries with 1,179 floaters registering to float. Arizona Gov at the time Raul Castro and his wife flew to Parker to watch the start. That year even a new course record of 1 hour 2 minutes was set by the overall winner (14 year old Carlos Carter of Laguna Beach). among the floaters were a group from Decatur, Ill and the largest group team of 212 .
The Parker Area Chamber of Commerce became the sponsor for the 7th annual float. Although that year attract smaller numbers the temperature of 115 degrees may have been factor. The next year though continued the upward trend again with the event attracting 1,000 floaters and still dealing with the heat on the day.
By the 13th year the float had become a feature event of the calendar year. the course was changed to its current format of from Patria Flats to the Blue Water Marina again the temperature was around 111 degrees. still the theme that year was Best Budweiser or Bubweiser Light float. Appropriately the largest team that year was the 110 floaters from OB's Pub.
The 31st annual float had a theme 'Chuggin Along the Colorado River' in commemoration of the Town of Parker celebrating its 100th birthday. the winner was Bill Von Zabern of California. He left Patria Flats at 9:00am with the other tubers and made it to the Blue Water Resort & Casino beach at 10:40 (even before the float officials). The following year, the "32nd annual Great Western Tube Float" had more than 1,000 registered floats. Parker Area Chamber Director Randy Hartless estimated 2,000 plus in the water altogether and the "33rd Annual Great western Tube Float" the next year it was estimated that 2,500 floaters participated. Special mention among the individual floaters was Parker resident, Chris Chambers who placed 1st overall and also won the 39-49 age class. Chris had been a regular for many years, but had not competed for the past three years The Parker Pioneer wrote that Chris had participated in the float 28 times, and had won in his class/category 24 times.
The Great Western Tube Float has become more than just a fundraiser. It has developed and grown to become a much anticipated special event on the Towns calendar and one that attracts thousands of participants from around the region and country. For those not participating in the Float itself it is a must-see event