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Monday, Oct 25, 2021

Magnolia Street Soap Box Derby attracts thousands

Rain failed to deter many community members from attending the Magnolia Street Soap Box Derby on April 14. The derby, organized by InTown Macon and College Hill Alliance, attracted a crowd of over 1,000.
Attendance was down from 2,500 attendees last year but according to InTown Macon’s Koryn Young, the turnout was decent despite the rainy weather. Young organized the annual event.
“We’re very excited that it worked out so well,” Young said.
Nineteen teams representing local businesses and organizations from around Macon showed up at noon with cars for a test run on the Magnolia Street Course.
Unfortunately, the cars of Macon Aces, a disc golf club, and Legal Eagles, Mercer University’s Law School, both lost during the initial test run.
The teams that survived the test run competed for first, second and third place prizes in the Grand Prix. The cars competed one at a time in the time trial.
The Bearfoot Tavern team received the best time, retaining its status as the reigning champion of the derby.
The Cotton Avenue Hustlers provided live music during the Soap Box Derby.
A last minute cancellation by the audio technician briefly put the music in peril, but a volunteer was able step in.
The derby was scheduled to coordinate with the Second Sunday Concert in Washington Park, adjacent to the derby’s course.
However, the concert was relocated to Grant’s Lounge later in the evening.
Street entertainers, including Streetline percussion, performed despite the weather.
Streetline, whose derby car came in fourth place at 10.9 seconds, is a non-profit organization that specializes in teaching percussion to at-risk youth.
“Our drums are marching equipment made for weather. We don’t cancel,” said Danny Rantz, Head Adviser of Streetline.
Event organizers decided to push up the schedule of the day to ensure that crowds stayed for the entire derby.
As a result, many members of Streetline had to rush to Magnolia Street and performed in formal church clothes.
The Soap Box Derby is supported by dozens of volunteer groups, including Boy Scout Troop 8, who lined Magnolia Street with hay bales they provided.
Many cars crashed into a wall of hay at the end of the course.
The scouts rebuilt the wall and cleared the course after each race in preparation for the next one.
“Boy Scout Troop 8, they’re basically the unsung heroes of every single year [at the derby],” Young said.
This year marked the first that InTown had volunteer security workers to keep the spectators and belongings off the track and hay bales.
Magnolia Street residents contributed their yards and porches for spectators to get a better view of the race.
InTown does not plan any significant changes to next year’s derby, but does want to increase community involvement so the derby resembles a festival more than a race.
“We’d like to keep the formula the same because it’s worked so well for us the past few years,” Young said. “We’d like to have 40 cars next year. We’d like to invite more of the community to participate and more businesses to participate, so we can have a professional level and more novice level.”
This year featured some unique and creative derby cars, including Rodeo Beach’s horse drawn carriage and Georgia Public Broadcasting’s car resembling radio towers.
Middle Georgia Derby Demons featured a giant skate as their car; Middle Georgia Ambulance raced with a miniature ambulance car with working lights, siren and confetti cannon; and Mercer Law showed up with a giant gavel car with the name “Legal Eagles.”
Local business, Francar’s, had a Harley trike car with chicken wings in back.
Also apparing in the soapbox derby were representations of the famous Flintstone car, a kayak, a Model A hotrod and trashcans.


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