Christopher Rosacker

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October 14, 2013
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2013 Soapbox Derby raised $6K for Pioneer Park

The Nevada City Adult Soapbox Derby raised approximately $6,000 at its 2013 incarnation.

“We were very pleased with the way the derby turned out this year,” said event organizer Rich Bodine.

The soapbox derby has become an annual event centered around a series of races of non-motorized contraptions built within prescribed parameters. There are two types of heats: one for speed and one for design. But the race is not all that goes on at the derby, as vendors sell food, and there is no shortage of activities for attendees, including free access to the park’s pool for kids.

The derby is a fundraiser for Pioneer Park, which is located off Nimrod Street in Nevada City — the same street used for the races. In total, the first three soapbox derbies have raised about $26,000.

The first year’s soapbox derby raised $5,000 — one-third of the total raised the subsequent year. Much of the second-year derby’s total can be attributed to a $10,000 sponsorship by AJA Video that year.

The inaugural derby’s funds went toward the installation of a bocce ball court on the back side of the park.

Approximately $1,000 of 2013’s $6,000 derby proceeds will go to the Nevada County Concert Band, which regularly performs in the park during the summer months, Bodine said.

“It is earmarked for park improvements as it relates to the band,” Bodine said.

Another $1,000 is being allocated to Nevada Union High School athletics because of its assistance with the derby, Bodine said.

“The rest will go toward some park project, but we haven’t lined anything up yet,” Bodine said. “One part will be reinvested into more barricades. That is something the city and the Chamber (of Commerce) can benefit from as well because they use them for parades and events like Mardi Gras.”

One possibility for this year’s funds is contributing toward the Lions Club’s plans to refurbish Pioneer Park’s playground equipment, such as adding a spiral slide, Bodine said.

“If people have ideas, they are welcome to submit to us,” Bodine said, noting that the ultimate decision on the park improvements is the authority of the city of Nevada City.

The bulk of the second derby’s funds were originally eyed to help fix one of the park’s baseball field’s flooding problems, but the city was denied a grant for that project, and the bulk of the 2012 derby’s funds remain unallocated.

While the 2013 total funds were more in line from its inaugural-year totals, it is notable that this year’s event took place June 22 — a departure from the two preceding years’ occurrence on Father’s Day weekend. That holiday weekend also sees the Grass Valley Bluegrass Festival and the Nevada City Classic bicycle race. Moving the derby back a weekend was an attempt to lighten the burden on the city and its volunteer base.

Next year’s event will be June 21, Bodine said.

To contact Bodine and other derby facilitators, email or visit

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

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The Union Updated Oct 14, 2013 11:58PM Published Oct 15, 2013 10:59AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.