Premier responds to Soap Box Derby cancellation

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Dharm Makwana of 24 Hours picked up on our story and managed to get the Premier to comment.

The wheels have fallen off Premier Gordon Campbell’s favourite community event. The Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce backed out of running the neighbourhood’s celebrated soapbox derby for its 18th year, opening the door for the makers of Red Bull energy drink to re-brand the kid-friendly day as an adult-oriented attraction scheduled for September.

“It’s a real shame,” said Campbell, MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey. “I can’t think of how many years I’ve had the opportunity to see the events. That’s all going to be lost, and the whole community loses when that happens.”

Red Bull marketing director Michael Cornwell said Kits Chamber of Commerce embraced the company’s plans to run a derby, distinct from previous years with a minimum age requirement of 19 and a tougher course, despite any commitment to continue running the event in the future. “We might do an event for one or two years and then not do it the following year,” he said.

Chamber executive director Terry Clark said the burden on volunteers made the race difficult to run. “Can you imagine volunteers getting up at 5:30 in the morning, and standing out there, and unloading bails of hay off a truck, and then putting them back on?” he said.

Campbell, who thanked volunteers and parents for years of commitment, considers their effort a price worth paying. “This is a sporting event that’s second to none.”

I have a feeling the volunteers aren’t the issue this time around – they were all smiling last year.

Last modified: May 7, 2008

10 Responses to " Premier responds to Soap Box Derby cancellation "

  1. StanTheMan says:

    Terry Clark sounds like the problem.

  2. George Miller says:

    After looking at the full page of 24 hours reporting “the death of the Soap box derby” it would appear that 24 hours hasn’t really advanced in the journalism department after all and can be more likened to a small town “Inquirer”. Although the derby has been passed UP to Red Bull, it was done in a fashion to help the local economy and retail Business. Red Bull has the resources to really develop the event both from a marketing and a logistics point of view. I am really looking forward to seeing this event take place on the 5th of September… So it would seem that our young journalist from 24 hours could be corrected and perhaps a more enlightened headline would be “Red Bull takes Soapbox Derby to a National Status” Kitsilano is very fortunate to benefit from this exposure. Good on Terry Clarke for having the foresight to do whats best for the business community, After all… is this not the mandate of the Chamber of Commerce?

  3. This sounds like yet another unfortunate idea to homogenize a neighborhood that HAD a true culture and personality. All we will be is an outdoor mall if all small retailers are pushed out by high rents and “same old” product as in the malls. Of course if there are no festivals or street celebrations there is no CHANCE for community or unity among people. Eliminating a chance for the people to enjoy Kits and celebrating the STREET for being the street is what is really meaningful.
    Thanks for the heads I will be in touch with them.
    Happy to have sponsored the soap box derby many times!

  4. Tony Mark says:

    The 24 Hours journalist does not need to be corrected or enlightend. Its dead! Looks like I just managed to get my 9 year son in the last race last year. Let’s face it Kitsilano is not a kid friendly place. I could not feel a lot of local support and enthusiasm for it. The Chamber of Commerce is bringing an event more suitable for the local demographic and ready funding. No volunteers needed or fund raising required. The board is not taking the derby to a national status. The Red Bull race is fun farce race for adults only over 19. It mocks the dignity of the kids soapbox race. The kids will have to go to a more kid friendly area.

  5. George Miller says:

    It is an interesting forum. I personaly agree with you that the tradition of the kids soap box derby is priceless. I happened to be one of the volunteers who helped with the derby in the last couple of years. It was with great pleasure to participate. However, the reality is, that dispite requests, every year there was fewer and fewer volunteers to help out. This is an event that costs an exceptional amout of money to produce. Further, I am happy that you got your son involved last year… this has no doubt created great memories for you. I am sure that your son could really enjoy watching the Red Bull Derby. I have heard that they are a blast for all ages. Athough also dissapointed… I am keeping an open mind.

  6. Richard Moreno says:

    It is a great shame to have lost this Traditional event to a “Circus Race”. The many Girl’s and Boy’s who have spent countless hours designing, building and improving their cars for the next event are now terriblly disappointed. Many young Designers have spent almost a year attempting to to gain 1 or 2 seconds on their previous model. Where do they go now?
    As a participant,sponsor and a Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce member we are very dissapointed.

  7. EC says:

    The problem with the soap box derby is that it always started to early in the morning. It would have been more successful if the race happened in the afternoon. Not many people want to watch a race at 9am.

  8. […] Kitsilano Soapbox Derby was a time honored tradition on the West Side for 17 years. This year the tradition is gone but the soapbox race is back with a […]

  9. Aaron says:

    This really sucks why did campbell have to pull a stunt like this I am so sad

    SOB