WILLIAMSBURG — With no paws to protect or mutts to feed, racers in another great winter competition headed to the Idiotarod, one of the city's beloved, if chaotic, street theater events Saturday.
Not to be confused with the Iditarod, a famous dogsled race which takes place in Alaska in March, the Idiot-arod pits teams of 5 and a single shopping cart against the forces of nature, beer, and one another every winter.
This year, the event kicked off at 12 p.m. inside McCarren Park at the Open Space Alliance headquarters, according to a tweet posted by @IdiotarodNYC, which repeatedly pointed out a last-minute moniker change for the group after the 10-years-running meetup received a cease and desist letter from the Anchorage-based Iditarod organizers.
"The letter was initially thought to be an elaborate joke or very clever sabotage scheme, however the DHA and IDIOT Labs have confirmed that the firm is, in fact, real and does represent the Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc. ("ITC"). Whether anyone at the firm or ITC has a sense of humor remains uncertain," the Idiotarod organizers posted on Facebook.
The letter threated legal action for trademark infringement, "even though no one in their right mind could possibly confuse the ramshackle, unsanctioned display of frivolity featuring racers with wacky costumes and ridiculously modified shopping carts running between bars in the outer boroughs of New York City with the well-known long-distance sled dog race between Anchorage and Nome," the post read.
"The best way to describe this would be drunken Halloween in January," said one contestant, who would only go by the name Luigi the Plumber. "The best part is that it doesn't matter who is first, the officials are easy enough to bribe if you have a good supply of booze, food, and money in your cart. It's really about people who come up with the best themes," Luigi said.
The first stop was at Red Star in Greenpoint, the group made a 2 p.m. stop at Berry Park, at Berry and North 14th Street, and finally lingered at the East River Bar into the 5 p.m. hour.