Guest post by Chris Dell’Anno – Captain, Kirby Derby
The Earth has made what could be it’s last full trip around the sun since the last Kirby Derby…if the Mayans are right. The End of The World was the theme for the 11th annual Kirby Derby Day in downtown Raleigh on Saturday June 23. The night before the Derby, the skies opened up with wind, rain, and lightening…all fittingly perfect for the theme but not so good for parades and soap box derby races. Saturday started out cloudy and didn’t look promising, so a sacrifice of an imported beer to the gods of rain seemed to do the trick. The clouds parted and the various gods and dieties smiled down upon.
Pullen Park Terrace was ready in time for visitors to arrive and start grabbing a good seat for the parade and races that follow. There were many “firsts” this year including an incredible effort to organize parking from the free-for-all it usually is, into a uniform-ish, orderly chaos. This year also saw the organization of the “Safety Patrol”- a group of volunteers who donned referee outfits and neon vests to help keep the track clear and prevent the spectators from becoming victims of out of control race cars and the effort paid off. The Patrol had a system of whistles and air horns that let them know when a racer was heading down from the start towards what has effectionately been dubbed “dead mans curve”…although no one has actually DIED there…yet.
This year’s Derby also saw the first new winner of the soapbox derby in four years. This year’s winner went down the hill in a refurbished coffin, again, a perfect car design for the theme. The biggest “first”this year was the first ever organized musical marching group—the NCSU Pipes & Drums!! They cleared the way with the magical sounds of the bagpipes and got the crowd excited for the parade that followed. We can’t thank them enough for coming out and being a part of our little afternoon of creativity and competition.
The parade had some creative entries including a giant Twinkie—with folks tossing Twinkies out to the crowd, a couple of sizable cockroaches, a Jesus Dance Party complete with a dancing Jesus and his Angels, Zombies and Zombie Hunters. The Hunger Games were represented with a group of young people with bows and arrows, brining in the popular movie themes. Even the Stay Pufft Marshmellow Man made an appearance for the parade, a crowd favorite to say the least.
We had participants come from as far away as upstate New York, DC, and various points around the state. The Pullen Park Terrace community showed once again why they are one of THE neighborhoods in Raleigh that everyone else wished they lived in.
The after party had two bands, Katharine Whalen of Squirrel Nut Zippers and other local favorites Birds & Arrows (for their second consecutive Derby). Food vendors this year kept the crowds fat and happy—Clausies Pizza Truck, Will & Pops Grilled Cheese, and Fayetteville Street regulars Pavlov’s Hot Dogs.
The children had an inflatable water slide to help beat the heat, along with cotton candy, popcorn, and sno-cones. The Drag Race had a bit of controversy with the winner having been photographed with BOTH feet off the ground as he headed for the finish line—a CLEAR violation of the speed-walking rules, but as the photograph wasn’t seen until the day after the race, the current results will have to stand as they are…got to love a bit of drama with a race involving men in dresses!
The confetti has washed away, the crowds have picked up their cars, chairs and trash, and Pullen Park Terrace goes back into it’s mode as the best kept secret neighborhood in Raleigh…until Derby time next year!
Hope to see even more creative and entertaining entries next year…if we’re all here that is.