Like most good ideas, it started as a dream on a whim: gather kids, build some cars together, and see how far they will go down a pathway in the park. I was there for that first year when a few cars were built as part of a summer day-camp. Now, some six years later, the Chestermere Soap Box Derby “Lake Ridge Classic” has grown into a city-wide street event held annually along Chestermere’s Speedway, Rainbow Falls Link. Sadly last year’s race was rained out, but this year’s event is hoping for good weather and will be held on Saturday, September 4th from noon to 3:30 pm.
While finding a prairie hill steep enough on for a race was a challenge, today with the help of a ramp and some creativity, kids are picking up more than a little speed – they’re making some raceway memories. Event organizer Tara Linsley says of the event, “Chestermere’s Soap Box Derby over the past couple years has been one of the events I personally look forward to. The purpose of the day is about community connection. It’s really about creating an event that focuses on fun and relationships with families and neighbours. It’s about the ear to ear grins when kids cross the finish line beaming with pride as they look to see their families and friends cheering.”
Other community members are getting in on the fun, too. Local RCMP have been playfully setting up their radar and handing out speeding tickets to speediest racers. Businesses and the City of Chestermere roads department have all been joining in to support the races, too. Neighbours line up lawn chairs and place bets on their favourites, and a team of volunteers work to make the day special. “Our volunteers have just as much fun as the kids do on race day. It’s because of the team of people who plan and show-up to help that this event happens. It’s all about making this day special for kids and our community” says Linsley.
While colourful boxes on wheels might not break the sound barrier, there is much more at work here. New communities like ours thrive when they create welcoming events for kids right in our neighbourhoods. When our streets become places where we can gather and have fun, from street hockey to block parties, we take big steps towards creating the kind of culture that makes our city special.
If you want to sign up your child for the Chestermere Soap Box Derby, you can rent a car for $20 and compete with other kids in our community for fun and raceway glory. Visit lakeridgecommunity.com/soapbox for all the details. Even if you do not have kids or yours have grown out of their cars, everyone is invited to come and cheer on these racers. There is nothing quite like the feeling of having your community cheer you across the finish line, and the feeling is even better when you’re the one cheering.