Set Up at Columbia Park Begins Well Before Water Follies - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Set Up at Columbia Park Begins Well Before Water Follies

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KENNEWICK, WA - Preparations for the 49th annual Water Follies began months ago but now it is really crunch time. The HAPO Columbia Cup and Over the River Air Show begins Friday but Columbia Park was packed well before. 

"If somebody asked us if we only had one event to go to, we would say the Tri-Cities," said Steven Compton, part owner of the Miss Thriftway U-60.

The Miss Thriftway is a vintage hydroplane that arrived in town on Wednesday. Thursday is all about getting ready.

"That's when we put the boat in its place. Usually the boats have to be transported on tilt and we lay the boat down, get all the road dirt off of it. Check the oil, check the gas, make sure nothing shook loose on the drive over here from Seattle," said Compton.

"We have to get gear boxes changed out, turbines put in the boat and make sure everything is working properly. We'll go through all our systems, fuel the boats and get them ready for going tomorrow. So when we come here tomorrow we're 100% ready to go and ready to rock," said Webster Racing U-22 driver, Mike Webster.

It's not just drivers and pit crews ready to rock. Hydro heads were already laying their claim on the riverfront spaces on Thursday.

"This isn't bad because the best part is, you get the highest speeds. They're doing 200 miles an hour right in front of us here and turning, starting to turn... So we get to see a lot of excitement," said longtime hydro fan, Cal Bradbury.

Then there is crews like ours. NBC Right Now is all hands on deck for Water Follies and with some new equipment you can expect the best quality broadcast yet from us this year.

"We love this. This is the Tri-Cities premiere event. We will always be here as long as the Water Follies welcomes us and the HAPO Columbia Cup and Over the River Air Show is going to be a phenomenal event this year," said manager Jim Tippett.

Vendors and RV spaces are also already filled as hundreds of volunteers work to ensure the park is ready to welcome the some 70,000 hydro fans to the Tri-Cities this weekend.