Ambulances, Roller Derby queens and more help celebrate community with Macon Soap Box Derby

Communities / Article

Beverly Blake, program director/Macon at Knight Foundation, blogs about the community’s annual Soap Box Derby. Above: a photo from last year’s event. 

I wish y’all had been here –  it was an example of the people of Macon at our best: 1,000 of us enjoying the picture perfect weather,  music in Washington Park, the kids playing in the water and writing on the sidewalks with colored chalk while the adults with a cool beverage and good conversation. And lots of dogs.  

It was the beginning of the 2012 Second Sunday concerts in the park (moved this month due to Easter), a program of the College Hill Alliance aimed at getting people to come out and enjoy an afternoon of free music, each other’s company and the beauty of Macon’s Intown Historic District. As wonderful as the concert was, the Soap Box Derby that followed exceeded expectations!

Originally suggested by Scott Page at Interface Studios in Philadelphia, our College Hill Master Planner, the idea of the Soap Box Derby was to get people involved in something fun to engage with one another and build a spirit of community.  And it has done exactly that.  Now in its fourth year, the derby was started by College Hill Alliance and had four entries our first year including one car without brakes!  As with all things College Hill, the goal is to identify a great idea, nurture it and then turn it over to an organization or individual for sustainability. Last year, the Magnolia Street residents and the Intown Neighborhood Association stepped forward to claim ownership of the Soap Box Derby.  The Community Foundation of Central Georgia awarded a Knight Neighborhood Challenge grant and the new owners were on their way, and what a fabulous job they have done in just two years!

This year had 23 entries (double last year’s) and 60 volunteers. The organizers raised enough funds through sponsorships and entry fees to assure sustainability.  The “cars” were a hoot, and included an ambulance, ambulance chasers from Mercer Law School, roller derby ladies with pink hair, Historic Macon and the winner Bearfoot Tavern, just to name a few.  The entries were so creative and it was obvious that everyone had big fun!  No problems, no injuries, just a lot of laughing and good-spirited interaction among neighbors and total strangers.  It was a perfect day because Intown and Magnolia Street residents care enough about this place to do something for this place and all of us who were there were the recipients of their civic pride.  Thank you.

I can’t wait till next year.  Y’all come join us!