by Eric Hagen
Instead of selling popcorn, baked goods or having a car wash, Cub Scout Pack 508 of Ham Lake invited over a dozen area businesses and individuals to compete against each other in a Pinewood Derby race at McKinley Elementary School Saturday.
Carl Ganter of Andover works at American Family Insurance in Blaine. He and his 86-year-old father John Ganter worked on a Pinewood Derby car 30 years ago when Carl was a Cub Scout. They recently spent a few hours designing and making a Pinewood Derby car out of a block of wood to compete against 13 other teams.
The competition among the 14 adult teams included some good natured ribbing, but this race was not about pride. It was to make sure that young boys could continue to be Cub Scouts at an affordable rate.
The approximately $1,000 raised from this inaugural Pinewood Derby race for local businesses and friends of Pack 508 will be used to replace a portable six- by three-foot bridge used in ceremonies when Cub Scouts advance from a Tiger Cub to a Wolf Cub or a Cub Scout advances to a Boy Scout.
In these ceremonies, the advancing Scouts walk across the bridge to their new group, according to Dennis Fallon, leader of Pack 508.
Fallon said he also wants each den within Pack 508 to have flags that can be used to practice proper flag etiquette.
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It costs Pack 508 about $50 per child each year for various activities, including the Pinewood Derby, he said. For those who join in kindergarten, the annual fee for the first two years is $20. For those who join in first grade, the annual fee for first grade through fifth grade is $40.
Fund-raisers are typical for organizations seeking to close a funding gap, but Fallon wanted to do something unique, so the idea for the adult Pinewood Derby race came about.
“The thing I’m most proud of is to hear they can keep fees low so every child that wants to participate can,” Carl Ganter said.
Jay Benton of Benton Builders in Blaine and his son Joshua Benton of Josh’s Home Delivery in Coon Rapids are both alumni of Cub Scout Pack 508. Jay has a grandson, Jakob Adams. who is now in Pack 508. Jay and Joshua remember how fun it was to build Pinewood Derby cars when Joshua was a Cub Scout, so they jumped at the opportunity to do it again.
The Benton’s Pinewood Derby car resembles the real Lincoln-Mercury vehicle they have been restoring together and plan to race in Brainerd.
Tom Hauwiller of Abra Auto Body and Mark Soderquist of New Market were a couple of other Cub Scout veterans who came back to race.
The kindergarten Cub Scouts chose the Justice Brothers car designed by Gillund Enterprises as their favorite. The fastest car was designed by Dr. Tony Lawther of Essentials of Life Chiropractic in Andover.
A fun aspect of this event was it gave the Cub Scout alumni opportunities to try out designs they may have mulled over for decades, Fallon said.
“I just wanted to make it like a sleek looking race car, but obviously that didn’t work the best,” Carl Ganter said. He loved seeing the different designs.
One of his favorites was the Ham Lake Fire Department making a vehicle that looked like a fire engine, Ganter said.
It even had a siren, but this feature had to be taken out after the first race because judges found out the vehicle was overweight because of the battery that operated the siren.
Each business that participated received a plaque which contained two pegs that their Pinewood Derby car could sit on. Fallon said this would be a visual reminder for clients that these businesses support the Scouting program and it could be a good ice breaker if the client was involved in Cub Scouts.
“This is an opportunity for us to reach out to local businesses and have local businesses reach out to us and build a sense of community and support each other as we build a program,” Fallon said.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org