The view from the top of the soapbox derby course on Argyle Street, in the 2017 Little Lightning race. ANDREW NIXON PHOTO

The view from the top of the soapbox derby course on Argyle Street, in the 2017 Little Lightning race. ANDREW NIXON PHOTO

Port Alberni soapbox derby has new track

Lower Argyle Street will be open to racers under six

Lower Argyle Street in Port Alberni will be closing on Saturday, July 21 for an afternoon of downhill racing.

The third annual Little Lightning in the Valley Soapbox Derby is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at a new location on the lower half of Argyle Street. For the past two years, the race has been held at the top of Argyle, ending at city hall. Organizer and Port Alberni Kinsman Jason Ferguson said that organizers chose to change up the course to give returning kids a new race track and also to help the businesses in the Lower Argyle area.

READ: Inaugural soapbox derby a success

“It will give them more foot traffic,” said Ferguson, pointing out that Upper Argyle is largely residential. “This kind of event is really more suitable for that area.”

The track will be ending at the sidewalk before the train station, in order to avoid the industrial road in the area.

In another change from previous years, this race will be open to tykes under the age of six. Last year, the Kinsmen tried to hold a soapbox event for adults, but didn’t get enough entries.

“It’s something we’re trying,” said Ferguson. “The big kids didn’t want to play last year, so we thought we’d open it up to the little kids.”

Ferguson said the Kinsmen have had “lots of interest” from families in previous years about opening the track up to younger racers. These specially designed carts will safer and slower, with minor steering abilities.

“The goal is to get it to where it’s safe enough that a kid can be picked out of the crowd and and jump in,” said Ferguson.

Hopeful participants do need to bring a helmet, he added.

The Kinsmen will be accepting registration up to the day of the event. Racers will have to check in ahead of time to sign waivers. There are always spaces available for volunteers during the event, Ferguson added.

“Many hands make light work, that’s the Kinsmen motto,” Ferguson said. “We’ll never turn down a volunteer.”

If you are interested in registering a racer or volunteering, you can contact Jason Ferguson at 250-731-4114 or through email at jayferg85@gmail.com. You can also contact Mitch Gardner at PI Financial or check out the Kinsmen Club Port Alberni Facebook page.

Spectators are welcome to come out and cheer on the racers on Saturday.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com