MUSCATINE — Organizers are hoping a parade and a soapbox derby can bring people together.
Fourth of July festivities will roll into downtown Muscatine this year with the annual soapbox derby as racers speed down the 3rd Street hill. The derby will run in close coordination with the Fourth of July parade presented by the Muscatine Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s something different that we don’t see every day,” councilman and derby organizer Kelcey Brackett said. “It gets people together.”
The initial heats are anticipated to start around 11 a.m. and will break for the parade, which starts at 5 p.m. The derby will end with final heats determining the winner following the parade.
Coordinating the race times with the parade just made sense, according to Brackett, because people will already be downtown. Last year, the gaps between the derby heats and the parade were too large and people missed out on the derby.
This will be the third consecutive year for the race since it was brought back after an extended hiatus. Brackett and Public Works Director Brian Stineman took over leadership responsibilities because, according to Brackett, they didn’t want to see the event disappear. Brackett first got involved with the derby as a team captain. He said the race looked fun and interesting, and is a nice event for the community.
The race will include two divisions this year. The youth division for participants ages 10-15 and the adult division for ages 16 and older. Derby cars must be functionally complete by June 24 when cars will be inspected for safety near Mississippi Brewing Company, said Brackett. Details about cars and the race may be found on the group’s Facebook page: facebook.com/MuscatineSoapboxDerby/
Brackett said he is still looking for additional food vendors and businesses interested in sponsoring the event. He also said the group may add additional events such as big wheel or tricycle races for adults during the derby heats. Businesses interested in sponsoring the event or donating prizes may contact Brackett at 563-316-0353 or email@example.com.
While there isn’t fame and fortune waiting for the winner of the derby, there is a trophy. And to those looking to participate, Brackett says just go for it.
“People shouldn’t be intimidated about it. It’s a really fun event,” he said.
The Chamber has sponsored the Fourth of July celebration in the past through fundraising. According to Chamber spokeswoman Alicia Bull, fundraising began in April to reach the annual $20,000 goal that covers costs associated with the parade and fireworks display. Funds are provided by local individuals and private businesses, which entirely fund fireworks. But funding is still needed, Bull said. Those interested in donating can do so at www.muscatine.com.
She also said construction on Mississippi Drive won't interfere with views of the fireworks.
"I don't think the construction will affect anything and won't effect the parade," said Bull.
Despite construction leading to road closures on Iowa Avenue and Sycamore Street near the riverfront, attendees may still bring lawn chairs to the location to watch the show, she said.
"We're looking forward to a good event." Bull said.
With any large event, safety is always a concern and the fire department is taking steps to prepare by ensuring that safety is a consideration throughout the planning process.
“We keep an eye on emergency access, safety provisions including things like assuring fire extinguishers are placed in larger tents and related code-required tent safety, and have input to event details so that safety is part of the planning,” Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal Mike Hartman said in an email.
The festivities will also include a pancake breakfast, a reading of the Declaration of Independence and a free performance by the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra just before the fireworks.