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Annual parade, races Saturday in Wilkeson

An old-fashioned railroad handcar will fly down the last remaining tracks in eastern Pierce County Saturday, as dozens of pumpers compete for trophies in the annual Wilkeson National Handcar Races.

The races, in the historic coal mining town of Wilkeson, attracted hundreds of people to watch the event last year, race chairman Jim Walker said.

This year, Wilkeson's 500 residents will host not only the races, but a parade, tug-o-war, lawn mower races, children's games and entertainment from noon until midnight.

The events are organized by the Wilkeson Booster Club, a group of local residents.

This is the 28th year for handcar races in Wilkeson. Wilkeson's event was the first of its kind in the nation in 1976. Now, there are nearly 20 similar races in the United States and Canada.

Pumping an old-fashioned railroad handcar, racers will vie for trophies. The races are open to anyone 18 or older and there are numerous classes for men and women and a special contest for handcar "pushers." Pushers get the car rolling for the two pumpers who race against the clock over the 425-foot, uphill course.

The races start at 1 p.m. Saturday and registration forms are available at the Eagle Tavern. There is a $10 entry fee for each person. There is no charge for any other event.

The day's activities will get under way at 11 a.m. Saturday with a grand parade down Wilkeson's Church Street. Numerous entries are expected including floats, horses, marchers and antique cars. Cpl. Eric Haulet is the grand marshal of the parade. The Carbonado native recently returned from serving in Iraq.

There will be plenty of food available, as community groups will sell a variety of items both in downtown Wilkeson and at the race site about one-quarter mile away.

Persons wishing to register for the handcar races or enter the parade may call Walker at 360-829-1526 or 360-829-2580.

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