Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Boy Scout Troop 455"

Scout Soap Box Derby Returns to Sag Harbor

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Sage Witty works on this year’s soapbox car with brother Aris. Photo courtesy Witty Family.


By Mara Certic

High Street will be closed to all motorized traffic for a few hours on Sunday, June 8, to accommodate Sag Harbor’s favorite high-speed car race—the second annual Scout Soap Box Derby.

Over 40 girl, boy and cub scouts, ranging in age from 7 to 17, will take to the streets to race soapbox cars that they have spent hours designing, assembling and painting with help from their friends and families.

Cub Scout leader and Wolf Den mother Laurie Barone-Schaefer resurrected the 80-year-old tradition last year, in an effort to get children off the couch and into the great outdoors. “We need to get these kids back to basics,” she said. “Not driving virtual cars, we need them in those cars and experiencing it first hand.”

Second-grader and first-time racer Ryder Esposito will take to the streets in his brand new American flag car on Sunday. “My Dad, Mom and sister helped me build it,” he said. “We all thought of ideas. It’s red with blue stripes and white stars; it looks awesome!”

“I’m most excited to race my car down the hill at the derby,” he said. “I’m excited to show my friends and see their cars too!”

Last year’s runner-up Bryona Hayes will don her racer’s helmet again this weekend. The 9-year-old has decided to revamp last year’s car, changing it from a black with the name of her sponsor, “East End Fuel,” to a white car with sparkles.

She really enjoyed last year’s race, she said, and added that she “went pretty fast.” She has no real change in strategy this Sunday, she said, and will stick with her tried and tested tactics that won her a second-place trophy: “I’m just going to keep leaning forward,” she said.

Although the race begins on Sunday afternoon, the event really starts on Saturday when the cars will all be impounded at the Sag Harbor Elementary School, and a panel of judges will then determine the winners of six secondary prizes who will be awarded plaques after the races on Sunday, along with the first, second and third places trophies for two weight divisions.

On Saturday evening, scouts of all ages will convene at Long Beach for an informal gathering “to enjoy downtime together before the big race,” Ms. Barone-Schaefer said. Marshmallows will be roasted on the beach as the King and Queen of the Soap Box Derby are announced.

This year, the winners of an essay contest, entitled “What Scouting Means To Me” will be donned with crowns and sashes and honored during the parade down Main Street directly preceding the race.

The parade, which will begin on Main Street at 1 p.m., will include the fire department, local vintage cars and memories of friends past. This year’s event is dedicated in memory and honor of Katy Stewart, whose brother, Robert, will be competing in Sunday’s race. Katy’s Courage will have a pink beetle bug car in the parade and Katy’s friends will be walking along side it and throwing candy to the crowd. Last year’s derby was dedicated to Jordan Haerter, who was a member of troop 455 himself.

After the parade, the speed-racers will make their way down to High Street, whose residents they presented with preemptive thank you letters and coupons for hot dogs, snacks and drinks on Tuesday.

“We need them to get to know the people in our community,” said Ms. Barone-Schaefer. “And through this process, they’re meeting all these people. They would not usually have that opportunity otherwise.”

The children, she explained, met village officials when they accompanied her to a Sag Harbor Village Board meeting in March to seek approval for this year’s event.

“They know Chief Fabiano, where they wave and say hi to him when they see him on the street, they know Rusty from WLNG,” she added.

“It’s just a really fun day. It’s a day of community, a day of family and a day of old-fashioned fun.”

The Sag Harbor Scout Soap Box Derby will take place on High Street on Sunday, immediately following a 1 p.m. parade down Main Street. For more information visit sagharborderby.com

Laurie Barone-Schaefer

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Laurie Barone-Schaefer has lived in Sag Harbor for the past eight years. A professional photographer by trade, Ms. Barone-Schaefer has became a dedicated Cub Scout den mother—a job that she pours her heart into, she says. She discusses the importance of scouting and the upcoming Soap Box Derby, which will take place on Sunday, June 8. 

By Mara Certic

How did you become involved in the Cub Scouts in Sag Harbor?

Well, I have three little boys. And the organization is just absolutely wonderful for our children to be involved in, and I feel very strongly about that. And because of that I inquired about having my children join, and there was no leader available for my middle son’s age group, so I pretty much stepped up and became a leader.

Why is it that you felt so strongly about your sons joining the Scouts?

I was a Girl Scout and my brother was a Boy Scout and this is something that I just wanted my boys to be exposed to. They learn so much about the outdoors. We go on nature hikes; we go on adventures. The bonding and the lifelong friendships that are formed through the different things that we do is so amazing to see. You see them grow right before your eyes. They all have this bond that is something you can’t force, it just happens naturally. I really think that being part of the organization is a huge part of that.

 Last year’s Soap Box Derby was the first Sag Harbor had seen since the 1950s. Why did you bring it back?

Growing up, you have a lot of fond memories of your childhood, and things have changed so much even from when I was a child. All the community kids congregated outside and played and we wouldn’t go inside until the sun started to go down and it was dinnertime. And as a parent now you sit back and you see what’s going on and everything is cyber this, or cyber that. So I said, you know what? We need to get these kids back to basics. And we need to get them experiencing things outside; not driving virtual cars. We need them in those cars and experiencing it firsthand.

Who is participating in this year’s race?

Last year we had approximately 34 racers, and this year we have 42, so we have quite a substantial increase this year, which is absolutely wonderful. We’re very excited about that. Racers who did race last year are able to use their cars from last year. I know some of them are probably revamping them and giving them a fresh look, a new update. We have involved all the Scouts in Sag Harbor: Girl, Boy and Cub. We wanted to invite all the Scouts together into the event. There are two divisions this year, the Mustang division (the driver and car combined can weigh up to 150 pounds) and the Thunder Road division (for the older kids, 225 pounds combined weight).

 Are there different rules for the two divisions?

This year, the Thunder Road division don’t need to use the kit part wheels; it gives them more of an opportunity to use their creativity and have a little more fun with things. They do have a safety requirement that they need to meet, of course.

 What exactly is going to happen on June 8?

This year, we’re doing something a little different, we’re having our safety inspections and registrations down over by the Elementary School gym on Saturday, June 7, and we are going to be impounding the cars there. On Sunday, we’re starting with a parade down Main Street at 1 p.m. with the fire department, local vintage cars, trailers trailering the derby cars, and then we’ll make our way to High Street for the race. This year it is our honor to dedicate the race to Katy Stewart, whose brother is a member of Troop 455.

 How has the local community responded to the Soap Box Derby?

There’s been an outpouring of support from the community, and we just want to thank all of them. The Scouts are being embraced by their community in such a loving way. This is what they’re going to take with them when they get older, and this is what being part of a community really means. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

Schaefer Awarded Arrow of Light

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Andrew B. Schaefer Jr. Arrow of Light Award

Photography by Jim Stewart

On April 7, Andrew B. Schaefer, Jr. attended his Blue and Gold ceremony at St. Andrew’s Parish Hall where he crossed over from cub scouts into Sag Harbor Boy Scout Troop 455.

Schaefer was the only scout to cross over this year and was also awarded the Arrow of Light, the highest award given to a cub scout. The ceremony was conducted by Martin Knab with cub scout leader Valerie Remkus.