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Soapbox derby, bicycle safety event set for Saturday

Soapbox derby, bicycle safety event set for Saturday

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Two fun-filled events are scheduled for Saturday that will emphasize wheels in motion.

The first annual McDowell Soapbox Derby will be held Saturday at West Middle School. The opening ceremony will kick off at 10 a.m. The soapbox derby is a McDowell Health Coalition-sponsored family event “bringing together the school and the community for an afternoon of fun competition,” reads the Website for the Health Coalition. “The Coalition’s goal is to promote health and well-being all across our beautiful county. We hope you can join us for some healthy, family fun and experience the thrill of a soapbox derby.”

For those who may not be familiar, a soapbox derby is a race for children who will drive motorless improvised vehicles. They are often made from crates or boxes and resemble race cars. The soapbox cars coast down a hill. Prizes will be given to the winners.

Amy Haynes, the coalition’s new executive director, said Wednesday that it is too late for contestants to register since the deadline was April 1. But everyone is welcome to attend this event and cheer on the competitors. One of the organizers said around 15 teams have signed up to compete.

Although this is a free event, donations will be accepted and all money raised will go to help support the work of the McDowell Health Coalition, she said.

For more information, contact Amy Haynes at 659-6661 or visit

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Not far away and after the start of the derby, a bicycle safety event and group ride will be held at the greenway. This event will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at the entrance to the greenway on Sam Phillips Drive, past Lowe’s. Participants can check in and register there.

“During the course of the school year, youth have been taught hands-on instruction on bicycle safety in the classroom, now they will have the opportunity to apply their new skills with a group ride on the Joseph P. McDowell Historical Catawba River Greenway,” reads a news release. “It’s no surprise that more people are discovering the Joseph P. McDowell Historical Catawba River Greenway. Some like to walk for fun and health and some like to bicycle. It’s important for all users to properly share the greenway to avoid injury.”

To promote bicycle etiquette on the greenway, a short on-site training about bicycle safety will be held followed by the group ride. Officials from the Marion Police Department and the city of Marion will also be on hand to provide bicycle safety tips, information on the Watch for Me NC Campaign and refreshments for riders.

This free program is being provided by McDowell County Schools, Catalyst for Active Living and Healthy Eating, McDowell Health Department’s Active Routes to School Program, Marion Police Department, McDowell Trails Association, the city of Marion and the Watch for Me Campaign.

Sheree Hughes is the McDowell Catalyst coordinator with the N.C. Public Health Foundation. She said she needs additional volunteers to help with this event.

“We encourage participants to bring their own bicycles and helmets but we have some loaners available for children and youth,” said Hughes.

If you are interested in volunteering or want more information about the bicycle event, contact Sheree Hughes at 659-6658 or

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