CAMDEN — There was plenty of sunshine - and duct tape - at the 2nd annual Cardboard Box Derby held at The Camden Snow Bowl Saturday afternoon, March 8. Much like The U.S. National Toboggan Championships, the Cardboard Box Derby brought out the extravagant, the wacky and the whimsically creative in the form of costumes and cardboard racing boxes.
Word of mouth fueled this year’s derby entries, which far surpassed last year’s. Eighty-eight contestants, most of them kids accompanied by their parents, took to the slopes in racers ranging from small, fast cardboard rockets to a gigantic barge complete with a coconut tree to a replica the the Titanic.
The rules stipulated that the racing boxes had to be built of uncoated cardboard, no wood, plastic or metal allowed. Racers could use as much duct tape as they liked (an allowance most of the racers indulged in heavily) and the sliding surface of the racing box had to be plain cardboard, with no type of spray or coating on the bottom.
Many of the racers stood in line to get to the top of the Snow Bowl’s tubing hill with their cardboard racers tipped to the side, so that the snow wouldn’t saturate and mar their sliding surface.
The fastest team to complete the hill run was The Crazy Cruising Cousins with a time of 7.41, followed by The Box of Doom with a time of 8.01. The Most Creative Box award went to Lobster Boggin and the box with the Most Spirit went to Jamaican Bobsled.
Though the number of kids far outweighed the number of adult racers, that didn’t deter the Batmobile team. Cub Lewis of Phippsburg and Bedina Austin of Bowdoinham dressed up like Batman and Catwoman. Their cardboard Batmobile was built from materials straight from a dumpster in the back of a shopping center.
“I grew up with the old Batman series,” said Lewis. “But the old Batmobile was kind of boxy, so we modeled this one after the latest Batman movies.” As for the costume? “I bought this costume at the Maine Mall,” he said. “It’s actually pajamas — the first and last time you’ll ever see me in these.”
The Lobster Boggin, built by the family of Dante Jacob, 10, of Searsmont, could easily be training wheels for a future Toboggan Championships theme in a few years. Jacob, who won the Derby’s Most Creative box award with his bright red cardboard lobster said, “We’re in Maine, and Maine is popular for lobsters.” He added that they, too, got leftover materials, and theirs came from the Searsmont Fraternity General Store. Talk about a perfect example of re-using, recycling and reducing waste in this contest.
The day was unseasonably warm for racing with more than a few boxes coming to somewhat of a soggy halt on the slopes before needing to get a push back down the hill. The Albatross, a cardboard racer designed like a float plane, performed...well, like an albatross on the hill. But that didn’t faze the builder, David Lee, who built it for his kids, Oliver Lee, 5, and Henrietta Lee, 3.
“We always had the dream of going around the world, not in a boat, but in a seaplane, so we came up with this model based on the plane Grumman Albatross, and we made it out of boxes.” A friend was done moving, so they used her cardboard boxes to build it. Perfect.
It might have been a long, hard winter, but this is how Mainers have fun in March.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org