Finish line for derby

LA Canada

A 10-year fixture of La Cañada came to an end last year due to a lack of community involvement.

The annual Greater Los Angeles Soap Box Derby, put on by the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada, will not be rolling through the city in the foreseeable future, organizers said. May 30, 2009, marked the 10th, and last, year of the event.

"It wasn't something La Cañada got behind and supported," said Mary Grant, a member of the La Cañada Kiwanis Club, which hosted the event.

Racers were limited to boys and girls between age 8 and 17. Originally, the event appealed to a niche crowd and drew 40 to 50 racers. However, as the years went on, participation declined, and it became difficult to attract even 30 participants, said Daryl Grant, a current member and past president of the La Cañada Kiwanis Club.

"It's a labor-intensive event and it just got to be too much for us, considering the value and number of children who came out after about 10 years," Daryl Grant said.

The club expected to make money on the event to help fund several charitable efforts, but it became clear the derby was not a viable fundraiser.

"We barely broke even with the derby," Daryl Grant said. "We enjoyed putting it on as a service organization because we thought it added a little something for the kids and the parents because they would help them."

He described soapbox derbies as an All-American event that dates back seven decades. He added that interest in the races has faded as time went on, however, because there are so many other things to occupy children's interests

"You don't have the demand for it, and the culture isn't as popular as it was years ago," he said.

The club is switching its attention to its wine and gourmet food tasting fundraiser scheduled for September.

"We have about 95 members of men and women in all professions, both active and retired," Daryl Grant said. "We come together and raise funding and use the funding to finance various service projects. We raise the money and spend the money, and we raise most of it at the wine and gourmet food tasting event."

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