COEUR d'ALENE - It seems the 2013 Coeur d'Alene Diamond Cup was a sparkling success.
Spectators poured down Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive shortly after the last race ended around 4 p.m. Sunday. The three-day hydroplane extravaganza went off with no major problems reported. No fires, no riots and no accidents. In fact, many people agreed that the Diamond Cup went extremely well.
Philip and Teri Rettstatt of Athol enjoyed each other's company and a cool beverage after the final race. They spent all weekend at the races, cheering on friends and celebrating their upcoming 24th wedding anniversary.
"We took our anniversary trip early this year and spent it at the races," Philip said.
The couple said they a great time, and hope it happens again next year.
"It was awesome, we really enjoyed it," Philip said. "This is the first time we got to see the big boats race."
He said they didn't really encounter any challenges, but Teri said it might be nice if there was more to do between the races in the future.
"There was a lot of down time," she said. The races were brief, and she said sometimes it was more than an hour wait before the action resumed. Philip suggested having at least one more class of boats racing, "maybe the five-liters or one step down from the grand prix." But the Rettstatts concurred that it was a great family event with mild crowds, pleasant workers and informative bus drivers.
From a vendor's perspective, business was hopping. The mobile Meltz grilled cheese truck made its community event debut at the Diamond Cup. It was busy all weekend, with a perpetual long line of hungry patrons. The truck even ran out of bread at one point.
"Even Friday was good for us," said owner Joe McCarthy. "If I could have cooked any faster, I probably would have sold twice as many."
General manager Lori "Lou" Davey said she was impressed with the people in the crowd, those who patiently and politely waited for their food when the wait was about 15 minutes. She also said she felt the Diamond Cup was a success.
"I think that they did a really, really nice job of trying to cover everything," she said. "They just kept working at things they needed to work at, and I think they did a nice job."
She said event employees were really good about attending to restaurant needs, such as garbage control and refilling ice.
Spectator Gus Johnson of Post Falls stood in the first of two hydroplane pits, near the entrance to The Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course, Sunday. He had a grin on his face as he clasped his hands behind his back, as though recalling a distant memory as he admired the giant watercrafts.
"Hydroplanes are kind of in my blood," he said. "I love the big ones."
He wore a hat decorated with about 25 hydroplane race buttons, and carried a bag of the few extras he had.
"That's what kids did," he said. "When you got the buttons from the boats, you had a hat, and you put them on there. That's how you showed 'em off."
Johnson said he bumped into Steve David, the driver of the Oh Boy! Oberto Unlimited hydroplane.
"I had an extra one of the first-year pins, and I gave it to him for good luck," Johnson said. "Said, 'Here's for good luck, here's a pin from the very first year they ran.' So I got to see him, that was very special."
Johnson said he was excited to see the races again and felt that Doug Miller, president of Coeur d'Alene Diamond Cup and the race organizer, should be patted on the back.
"It's a lot of work," he said. "You can't say that this doesn't help the economy of Coeur d'Alene or Kootenai County. It helps all of Kootenai County. That's important. That's the way it's supposed to be. It's been really fun."
Johnson's appreciation of hydroplanes began when he was a boy, so the races were something that triggered some nostalgia.
"I'm back to being 14 years old, to tell you the truth," he said. "It's just like being back."
He said he saw a lot of families at the event through the weekend, and thought about how the Diamond Cup could once again be an annual activity for kids to enjoy.
"This could be a new generation of growing up," he said. "It's a very unique event."