Crabs out, the race is on!

WHAT do you get when you release hermit crabs inside cramped spaces with nowhere to go but toward the end of narrow alleys? They would all head toward move forward for sure, and how fast each one do it is what counts.

Each year, children and adults on Tinian look forward to winning attractive prizes in the annual hermit crab or umang race during the Hot Pepper Festival.

This year was no different. For the two-day event, kids and adults held on to their prized hermit crabs for the races, crooning to their crabs to make a go for it and win.

Boards with partitions in between to separate the race tracks were placed near the main stage and crowds gathered around to cheer on their bet toward victory.

The countdown begins, and the contestants release their hermit crabs on the track to the shouts and cheers from the crowd.

It was fun to see the crabs enjoying their freedom from the confines of their containers where they were kept prior to the race, then scrambling off to the only destination available—toward the finishing line. Some hermit crabs try to climb up on the partitions, while others simply refuse to move so owners had to coax and poke and beg them to move on. Maybe they were terrified or confused by the shouts from the crowd.

Some kids work in teams, bringing buckets of crabs and releasing them on the race tracks before the final event to check which crab would move faster. Others only have one, and hope for the best.

It takes only a few minutes of anticipation and excitement before a winning crab makes its way to the end of the track, and the winner gets the prize. Individual participants and teams then prepare for the next round, using the same or a different umang from their buckets.

Each year, owners of the fastest crabs receive cash prizes, gift certificates and other attractive prizes. Hermit crab race is common in several parts of the country, but you don’t have to go far to witness one.

The next time you attend a Hot Pepper or Pika Festival on Tinian, don’t miss watching or even joining the umang or hermit crab race. No festival there is ever complete without one.

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