Williamsburg Idiots Outsmart Cops, Race Their Shopping Carts

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Photo: Everett Bogue


At around 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon, seven colorfully costumed shopping-cart racers, six cops on horseback, five fully loaded cop vans, one police helicopter, twenty-five or so members of the media, and a number of non-affiliated camera-wielding denizens of Brooklyn descended on Greenpoint's McCarren Park for the promised spectacle of cart-racing insanity from Brooklyn into Long Island City. There was only one problem: The Idiotarod had been rescheduled.

The Idiotarod is hipster Brooklyn's answer to Alaska's Iditarod, but here it's people rather than dogs pulling shopping carts rather than sleds, and everyone dresses himself up. Last year's Idiotarod was broken up by police and forced to relocate to Fort Greene Park — apparently the NYPD frowns upon five-person teams tied to shopping carts racing through the streets of Brooklyn. Fearing the worst this year, the race's organizer, COBRA (Carts of Brooklyn Racing Association), made a last-minute rescheduling of the start time and only let the preregistered teams in on the info, thus throwing off the law, the media, and a few unregistered racers.

So McCarren Park was dominated by an air of befuddlement, shared by everyone from the cops to the media corps. After several minutes of milling about, an unregistered leprechaun-green racing team decided to take off for Queens and the crowd raced up Bedford Avenue behind them. The team did several well-intentioned laps around the intersection of Manhattan and Nassau Avenues; the police got themselves worked up and called in an entirely unnecessary helicopter.

The Idiotarod actually started at 2:30 p.m., by which time both the cops and the media had abandoned the scene due to boredom and went to get a bagel. Things then went off without a hitch. —Everett Bogue