NEW: Banana Car Invades Downtown Providence
Friday, August 12, 2011
It was the Big Banana Car, and Steve Braithwaite, the owner, builder, and driver of the vehicle, maneuvered his magnificent machine right outside the GoLocalProv office and offered pedestrians, passing cars, and reporters a brief respite from the workday and a fresh start to the weekend.
The BBC is in town to add some horsepower to local company Bananagrams' sponsorship of tomorrow night's WaterFire. But how the world's largest motorized banana and the popular game that's housed in a banana-shaped bag came together is pure, sweet coincidence.
Drive-by on Route 1
First, you have to know that Braithwaite built his megafruit on wheels with a serious mission: “To drive around the world in a huge banana and raise money for D.V.T. awareness,” he explained from the pilot seat of the
While on a road trip with a friend through Rhode Island on Wednesday, the pair literally drove by the Providence-based Bananagrams headquarters, and spotted the signage. "We thought, well, we've got to check this out," Braithwaite said. "So we walked in and said, 'We're here!'" Delighted employees asked them to wait for the owner to return, and a 15-minute wait turned into an invitation to stay and join forces with Bananagrams for WaterFire.
Life on the road... in a banana
While the Big Banana Car has only been touring the country for 2 months, Braithwaite has already been pulled over a few times. In New Jersey, a cop pulled the vehicle over just for a photo op. In Wisconsin, an ornery officer stopped Braithwaite on the hunch that there might be a restriction on driving a fruit down the interstate. It turns out there isn’t, but if a high speed chase were to evolve, the Big Banana Car’s 302 Ford engine would make for the most interesting high-speed chase in traffic history. Braithwaite bragged that on the highway it can get up to speeds of 65 mph, making it the fastest fruit in the world.
Wind-shear a threat
When traveling such long distances there are bound to be a few bumps in the road. The Big Banana Car is an open roof vehicle, said Braithwaite, and the wind gets especially bad when “a big tractor trailer passes us.” He jokingly talked about the intense winds he experienced while driving over the Jamestown Verrazano and Newport Bridges.
Overall, Braithwaite and the Big Banana Car are getting enough love to last them through the intense winds and a few too serious police officers. Receiving generous donations from Bananagrams and Rhode Island senator James Doyle (D-8th District, Pawtucket) they have been convinced to stick around our state a little longer. To catch your own glimpse, head to Market Square on Steeple Street tomorrow night, where the car will making its WaterFire appearance.
Just watch out for monkeys.