AIKEN - Lobsters aren't troublemakers. They spend most of their lives trying to stay out of hot water.
Unfortunately for organizers at the Aiken Lobster Race downtown on Newberry Street, the water took the form of cold rain and hail Friday night.
Only the first heat of the annual event was held because of the weather, which struck hard about 6:30 p.m. A break in the thunderstorms shortly after 7 p.m. permitted the race to be run.
Spectators gathered around the elevated Plexiglas tanks to watch entrant P.T. Cruiser speed, relatively speaking, past his rivals.
Sponsored by Dick Smith Chrysler-Jeep, the lobster's victory was the equivalent of a reprieve from the governor. Winners reportedly avoid an untimely dinner engagement.
"Whichever wins this race, we're going down to the ocean and let him go," disc jockey Jamie Bodie told the thinned and soggy crowd before the competition. "Y'all believe that, right?"
Even if P.T. was spared the lemon juice and garnish treatment, all bets were off for the other "thoroughbred racing lobsters from Maine."
The 12 other heats were canceled, although organizers encouraged people to stay downtown and enjoy the restaurants.
Among the almost-rans were several politically sponsored crustaceans.
State Rep. Skipper Perry's entrant, Re-Elect Me, was the most solicitously named.
Others were Go-Go Gresham, from the Gresham Barrett for Congress camp, and House District 86 Racer, entered by candidate Jim Stewart of J.E. Stewart Builders.
Reach Eric Williamson at (803) 279-6895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.