Opinion by Shawn Spencer
Some of you may have seen the signs as you enter city limits, that boast of Monrovia being recognized as an “All America City.” It is an award given to communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues. Monrovia received this award in 1995, and Jeff Hunt, of The Finish Line in Monrovia, plans on getting us back on track to do just that.
Some of you may remember the Soapbox Derby of years past, in Monrovia. It was an annual event put on by the city. Sadly, it became cost prohibitive and time consuming for the various departments that were responsible for the event, and it was retired. Hunt has long dreamed of bringing back this event, which was so much fun for kids of all ages. In 2019, Hunt finally put together a team to tackle the huge task of making the event successful. He and his “dream team” garnered sponsors for the event, to help offset the cost. Finding kids to race the cars was the easiest part!
The Derby took place on Myrtle Avenue, sharing the Avenue with Street Rods Forever and their annual car show. It was a picture-perfect day! Excited kids, ready to race in the cars they built with their parents, with their family and friends cheering them on. Old guys, wearing a lot of “Old Guys Rule” shirts, ogling all the cars from the good ol’ days, and everyone in between. The event was a success, raising approximately $15,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.
The event was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. (At this point, I just say that 2020 was cancelled, as that covers just about everything.) Hunt and his team are bringing it back this year. They are collaborating again with Street Rods Forever. They are two separate entities, working together for the benefit of our children. This year’s proceeds will go to the STEM programs at our local schools. The Soapbox Derby is completely volunteer based, but Hunt is going big this year with corporate sponsors, to make this event the biggest and most profitable one yet. Hunt’s lips are zipped as to who the sponsors are, so we will have to wait for the event to find out.
This is just what Hunt envisioned when he first dreamt of bringing this event back: some good old fashioned, all-American family fun! Families coming together, building a car, supporting the kids, teaching them the skills they need to race, instilling the confidence in them to compete, good sportsmanship and more. Judging from the happy faces I saw in 2019, this year will be even better. I think one of my favorite memories of the 2019 Derby, was the look of sheer joy and victory on a young girl’s face as she whooped her male counterpart. It was priceless!
The Soapbox Derby takes place on Sept. 11. Car drop off is at 7 a.m. on Palm. The race begins at 8 a.m. There will also be a special tribute to the victims and families of 9/11. To find out more about this event; to sponsor, volunteer or to get info on building a soapbox car and entering the races, visit their Facebook page or their website: monroviaoldtownderby.com Even if you aren’t participating, please come out and support the event! Support our kiddos! All donations are welcome, but cheers, clapping and smiles are mandatory! See you on Sept. 11 at the finish line!