Facebook Goldfish race at Harmon Tap Room.
Goldfish racing is one of those bar games that might sound cruel if it weren't so fun and you weren't so drunk. The game entails putting goldfish into a long canal of water and then, either with squirt guns or blowing through straws, goading your fish down the track before your opponent's. The Harmon Tap Room in Tacoma used to host races every Tuesday. Then PETA got wind of it.
Goldfish race at Harmon Tap Room.
"We'd use the little 10-cent feeder fish that would normally be fed to pets," Harmon Tap Room owner Pat Nagle tells Seattle Weekly today. "It was really, really popular. But we started getting all kinds of calls and e-mails from PETA people. It got to the point where Tuesday nights I'd get 60 or 70 e-mails. We went round and round about closing it. But eventually we felt we had to."
For a visual reference, here's what a typical goldfish race entails.
According to PETA's website, the squirting isn't the only issue they have problems with. It's also the drunken antics of the bar patrons involved (i.e. "impaling" and "swallowing" the fish).
Hoping to draw in customers, several restaurants and bars in the U.S. are holding weekly "goldfish races"--events during which patrons armed with bottles or water guns squirt goldfish down the length of plastic gutters. Making matters worse are reports that drunken patrons have impaled some fish with cocktail straws and have swallowed others alive. We've asked these establishments to replace the cruel events with alternatives, to no avail. We need your help now!
Fish are complex beings who have personalities, communicate with each other, form bonds, and even grieve when family members and companions die. Being handled and subjected to loud noises and bright lights is a terrifying ordeal for such tiny, defenseless animals who have no opportunity to escape and who are viewed by the bar managers as expendable commodities.
Nagle points out that his bar isn't the only Sound-area establishment to offer goldfish races. Woodsky's in Fremont (profiled just last week by our own Sarah Anne Lloyd) also offers the races every Tuesday. Nagle says he's spoken with the folks at Woodsky's and that they "are saying screw you to the PETA folks" and have no intention of cancelling the races.
A call to Woodsky's wasn't immediately returned.
UPDATE: Woodsky's owner Greg Woodman just got back to me. He says that indeed his bar has no plans of stopping the races--though he did say he doesn't want to go as far as saying "screw you" to PETA. He also says he has a deal for anyone who brings in their "save the goldfish" stickers. "Someone's started handing out 'save the goldfish' stickers around Fremont. Now we have a deal so anyone who brings in their 'save the goldfish' sticker gets 50 percent off their drink," he says. "We're gonna keep doing [the races]. Just because someone has a different viewpoint doesn't mean we're going to stop,"
"Someone's started handing out 'save the goldfish' stickers around Fremont. Now we have a deal so anyone who brings in their 'save the goldfish' sticker gets 50 percent off their drink," he says. "We're gonna keep doing [the races]. Just because someone has a different viewpoint doesn't mean we're going to stop,"
But the most recent update on Woodsky's Facebook page is from yesterday and says:
Ladies and Gentlemen, Goldfish races tonight Registration starts at 9:30 we have a big birthday tonight its Nate Goldfish racing host with the most party tonight. Hope to see you all here tonight.
So there you go--if it's goldfish racing you're after, whether to participate or to lobby against, you're best staying in the city.