This month the PNC Roar on the River will maintain its title as the longest running outdoor event in southeast Michigan.
However, the present-day event looks much different than the outboard “marathon” race held in 1951, the very first Trenton “boat race.”
In that event the racers endured the rugged Detroit River waves all the way up to the Ambassador Bridge and back. It was a great test of wills and endurance, but wasn’t much of a thrill for the Trenton Channel fans enduring a lengthy wait for the boat to return to view.
The 65th running of the Roar — like most of its recent predecessors — will be much more “fan friendly” when it launches from Elizabeth Park the weekend of July 17-20.
In fact, the racing, Friday night kickoff party, live music, Jet Ski stunt competitions, kids games, food and product vendors and numerous other interactive attractions make it one of the most diverse and distinctive events of the summer.
Race organizers kicked off this year’s Friday night party theme, “Christmas in July,” with a prerace Diamond Jack river cruise last month. The sold-out fundraiser boarded in Wyandotte and paid homage to that very first boat race by taking a cruise up to the Ambassador Bridge and back.
“It was an outstanding time and the weather was great,” said Ronnie Ruelle, who is part of the Trenton Rotary committee that organizes the race.
The committee is looking forward to more of the same, when the holiday-attire-optional kickoff evening begins at 6 p.m. Friday, July 17. The evening includes a free outdoor concert featuring Fifty Amp Fuse and a ticketed party called “A Taste of the Races,” that will feature the food samplings of more than 30 of the area’s best restaurants.
Tickets to the food fest are $25 and can be obtained at several locations around town, including the Clerk’s office at Trenton City Hall, Jocks & Associates at 3630 West Road, Dot Com Web Productions at 3133 Van Horn Road and Mans Lumber at 3300 West Jefferson Ave.
The restaurants will be serving from 6-8 p.m. Tickets are non-refundable.
Fifty Amp Fuse will take to the stage down by the riverfront at about 9 p.m. The popular Detroit-based band is essentially a Multimedia Tribute to some of the greatest music of the past half century.
Fifty Amp Fuse takes music lovers on a rollercoaster ride through the eclectic yet enigmatic explosion of the 1960s from pop to rock without leaving out any of the raw energy of that time … all of this accompanied by synchronized artistic video and a killer light show.
The band then leads you into the timeless funk and soul of the 1970s straight into the big-hair rock of the 70s and 80s as well as the punk/new wave era of the 80s.
On Saturday, the stage will be set for Standing Room Only at 5:30 p.m., followed later in the evening by Boogie Dynomite at 9 p.m.
The evening will be capped off by a Zumba Glow Party at 10 p.m.
The main event Saturday and Sunday will be high-intensity outboard powerboat racing, featuring tunnel boats that barely grasp the water as they skim along at speeds well in excess of 100 mph.
Once again the Trenton races will again be the site of two major world championships in the 45 SST and 200 SST racing classes. Champions will be declared after the final heats on Sunday.
A number of other types of boats will take on each other and the Detroit River waters throughout both days, including junior hydros, inflatable speedsters and old-style kneel-down boats.
For the past decade or so, the Typhoon Tommy Jet Ski Shows have been an integral part of the weekend, and this year will be no exception as the stunt riders compete against each other by doing some of the most challenging feats possible on a watercraft.
The hardcore race fans as well as the racers and pit crews are all big fans of another long-standing Roar on the River tradition, the annual Boy Scout Troop 1721 Pancake Breakfast, which will be held both Saturday and Sunday from 7 until 11 a.m.
Parking for the event will be available at three locations with a free shuttle running to and from the park at Kennedy Recreation Center, at Trenton High School and at Trenton City Hall. Parking also is directly accessible within the park for a requested $5 donation.
For more information on the weekend, please check out the website. www.trentonroarontheriver.com, or get updates via the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/roarontheriver.
The Roar on the River committee also is always in need of volunteers to help with various jobs throughout the weekend. Additional information and an application form can be found on the website.