SACKETS HARBOR — Hundreds of people may have lined West Main Street on Sunday for the inaugural 1812 Soap Box Derby, but footage of at least two races of one driver will reach thousands of miles to Afghanistan.
As 10-year-old Joshua J. Kinne raced his camouflage modified car down the hill, a small video camera was recording his runs for his father, Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Kinne, who is stationed in the South Asian country with the 444th Engineer Company of the Army Reserves.
Josh rarely practices because he’s not competitive with the activity; he simply has fun.
“You just have to build a really good box and steer,” he said after he raced Sunday. “It’s fun.”
His mother, Lura I., Watertown, accompanied him to the event, and other family members helped craft the derby car.
That’s exactly what event organizers said they wanted to see — family interaction.
The inaugural event, which was part of the 41st annual Can-Am Festival, was put on by the village of Sackets Harbor and town of Hounsfield Joint Recreation Committee. The derby idea came from Hounsfield Supervisor Timothy W. Scee, who had helped start a soap box derby as part of General Brown Days 26 years ago.
It’s been a family hobby for the Scee family ever since. Mr. Scee’s daughter, Erin E. Cook, used to participate in derbies as a little girl, and she passed the family tradition on to her daughter, Shayna N., 5, during Sunday’s event.
“She’s using the car we did when we was little,” Mrs. Cook said. “I don’t remember if I ever won. It was really fun to do when we were little.”
Soap box derby participants steer the cars with their feet, but some use steering wheels, the village resident said. There is a pull brake for stopping, and the most important thing to remember for a successful run, she said, is “to keep your legs up and feet straight.”
Mr. Scee’s hope of spreading family interaction proved successful Sunday with participation from Watertown brothers Ethan M. Fleshman, 5, and Schyler R. LaMark, 8. The two competed in different age classes, and Schyler even stopped perfectly on the finish line after his second run.
A few children started out in one of two lanes and lost control of their cars and either zigzagged into the other lane or crashed into hay bales alongside curbs. All participants were in good spirits, and even when they crashed, they wanted to keep going in order to cross the finish line.
Each participant got two runs, one in each lane. All children received a medal or trophy for their efforts.