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Lions Club's soap box derby draws a crowd in Innisfail

A portion of 50th Street was closed for part of the day as racers launched off the ramp at the top of the hill next to the Innisfail Cemetery

INNISFAIL - Much like the gravity-powered racers it features, the Innisfail Lions Club Soap Box Derby is also gaining momentum.

Entries in this year’s third iteration of the event doubled that of its first year, with 66 competitors participating.

Held Saturday, July 22, the derby was open to kids aged six to 16 although there was opportunity for others, including adults to try their hand at it.

A portion of 50th Street was closed for part of the day as racers launched off the ramp at the top of the hill next to the cemetery, then steered their carts down the roadway to the finish line as supporters cheered them on.

“It’s largely aimed at the younger folks,” said Bob McKinnie, a member of the Innisfail Lions Club which put the event on. “And some of the grandpas and grandmas that are here, they had big smiles watching junior junior going down the hill. And some have come back.”

The local Lions Club held the inaugural derby in 2019. It was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but roared back to life in 2022.

“It was initiated by one of our passed away members, Lance Riley. He was instrumental in getting it rolling. And so it’s something in his honour I guess to keep it going. It’s kind of special,” said McKinnie.

The service club is always looking for ways to fulfill its motto ‘we serve,’ said McKinnie.

“And that’s what this is all about. It’s looking for different ways to give back to the community.”

The club was joined in its efforts for this year’s event by the local Kinsmen and Rotary clubs which provided breakfast and lunch for attendees.

Participants could enter their own homemade, motorless, single-seated vehicles or could drive one of the handfuls of sponsored carts the Lions has stockpiled over the years.

While gravity does most of the work, McKinnie said there is a bit of strategy involved.

“Like I said to one of the kids, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line so you take the left ramp, the yellow ramp, come straight through. Take the blue ramp and you gotta take a longer route,” McKinnie said smiling.

About the Author: Lea Smaldon

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