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Crustacean Sensation To Be Crowned At 23rd Annual Great American Crab Races

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Hermit crabs gather together before the big races. (Photo courtesy: Linda Reynolds)

Hermit crabs gather together before the big races. (Photo courtesy: Linda Reynolds)

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BROOKLYN (WWJ) - If you’re in a pinch for something to do Tuesday night — it’s the finals of the 23rd Annual Great American Crab Races in Brooklyn.

Linda Reynolds, who heads up the crab committee, said the event is like going to Michigan International Speedway — minus the pace car and pole position. Instead, hermit tree crabs are put on a table inside a clear plastic cylinder.

“There’s a 12 inch circle and then all the crabs are put into the middle of the circle, and when you lift it, the first thing they want to do is escape. They’re all scurrying across this table, they don’t know what they’re racing for,” Reynolds told WWJ’s Scott Ryan.

So, how do you tell the racers apart?

“The crabs are all painted,” Reynolds said. “We’ve got Superman and Batman and a blue happy face and a soccer ball, you know, a hundred different decorations.”

Reynolds said to keep everything fair, crustacean intimidation is strictly prohibited.

“There’s no pointing, no swearing, no yelling, no pounding the table and no leaning in,” she said.  “We have four people that are like the judges of each race, and they have squirt bottles and they will squirt people.”

Racing sounds are piped in and there’s even a live play-by-play but don’t blink, because you might miss the finish.

“It can be over in 10 seconds, it might take 35 seconds, but it’s a fast race,” Reynolds said.

Winners with the fastest crabs get trips, gift cards and other prizes.

After the races, the crabs can be taken home as pets. Other crabs are adopted by school science classes.

The event starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Beach Bar on Clark Lake, at 3505 Ocean Beach Road.

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