Potawatomi Boy Scouts holds annual soapbox derby race

Ina Yang, Reporter

Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from the North Shore held their annual soapbox derby Sunday on Leonard Place between Ridge and Asbury avenues.

More than 200 kids signed up for the race, said Kofi Anaman, district executive of the Boy Scouts. Despite the rain, kids showed up along with their supporting parents and siblings.

“We’ve had this race for years,” said Chris Hersee, Boy Scout commissioner of the Potawatomi area.

The Potawatomi area includes Evanston and other North Shore communities.

The old-fashioned race has contestants build their own soapbox cars and race them down the slope in pairs. The race is broken into one-hour blocks, and all contestants are required to wear safety belts and bike helmets, Hersee said. Also in charge of the pit, Hersee checks all the soapbox cars to make sure they are safe enough so contestants do not collide into each other. All participants received a “Cubmobile” badge commemorating the yearly contest.

Jill Baker, a den leader for Cub Scout Pack 901 from Lincoln Elementary School, said Sunday was her first time participating in the derby.

“Our pack has a rule that you don’t get to race unless you help and participate in making it,” Baker said. “I think it’s really rewarding that they get to see themselves make (the race car), and they all seem to be having a blast.”

Pack 901 held several workshops from July through last week for the kids to work on their cars. Some scouts helped build the car and others painted it, Baker said. The entire pack of 18 kids built two cars and took turns to race.

Mike Mulvihill, a Boy Scout den leader and father of five, participated Sunday for the third year.

Mulvihill brought his two youngest sons, 5 and 6 years old, to the derby race this year. His other two boys, 8 and 11 years old, both had commitments to their school sports team and couldn’t attend the race Sunday. However, all four boys worked together to build their soapbox race car.

He said the boys learned how to use tools such as drills and saws while working together with their father and brothers on this group project.

“They love it,” Mulvihill said. “It’s a great time for dads to bond with their kids.”