Hydroplanes & hydro fans start to fill Columbia Park

Hydroplanes and hydro fans start to pack Columbia Park for the highly anticipated Columbia Cup.

Crews are spending today working on the hydroplanes, making sure they're in the best possible condition for this weekend's races.

And hundreds of hydro fans are setting up their campsites, as they wait for the races to start.

Chester Lepinski has been to the Columbia Cup just about every year since it started back in 1966.

"This is the one event during the year that I will not miss. If I'm in a nursing home, they're gonna have to bring me in a bed down here" said Lepinski.

Lepinski and other hydro fans are starting to fill Columbia Park for the 48th annual Columbia Cup this weekend.

Many are pulling in RVs, setting up chairs, and relaxing, just waiting for those boats to hit the water.

"It's camping for all our family. We all meet up, sit in the same place every year. We love it" said Kim Heistand, hydro fan.

"My birthday is this weekend. So it's kind of a big bash for me" said Seth McCracken, hydro fan.

And the hydros are at the park too.

Many arrived this morning, so crews could get a jump start on cleaning the boats and making any repairs to make sure the hydros are ready for action.

"We're gonna have somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 boats between the unlimiteds, the vintage, the grand prix, and the one liters" said Kevin Smith, pit chairman.

And it's no small feat to put this event together.

More than 100 volunteers are moving throughout the park, making sure everything is set up for the weekend.

"From now until tomorrow, try to get all the boat teams in. So two days of complete chaos, but then once we get through that, start racing on Friday" said Smith.

Hydro fans say they can't wait.

For many, going to the hydro races is a family tradition they look forward to all year long.

"We usually end up with about 50 or so people that hang out around our RVs, we have like four RVs back there. And it's just a good time" said Billy Sliger, hydro fan.

"Sun, warm weather, doesn't matter. Then after this week, over to Seattle next weekend" said Lepinski.

For more information about the Columbia Cup, and to see a complete schedule of events, click here.