A classic soapbox derby racer from 1967. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The Forest Park Village Council heard a request Monday night from the Forest Park Kiwanis Club to close off the Circle Avenue bridge in order to host a Greater Chicago Soap Box Derby Association race May 9.

Gerald Lordan, of Kiwanis, said the Park District of Forest Park would partner in the event, which would be affiliated with the All-American Soap-Box Derby Association in Akron, Ohio. 

A special regulation ramp will be provided by the Naperville chapter of the organization. Lordan said the cars cost about $500 to construct from a kit, but can be rented by Kiwanis for $30 per day. 

The organization also has several double-seater cars for children with disabilities who can experience the thrill of the race with a “veteran driver,” Lordan said. 

The Naperville branch would also provide insurance for the event, and make the village of Forest Park co-insured on the policy. 

Soapbox enthusiasts can be expected from nearby states like Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana to race in the rally, said Lordan, adding that Kiwanis planned to offer food from local restaurants and picnic opportunities at Veterans Park, intersection of Lehmer Street and Circle Avenue. 

Matt Brown, leader of Forest Park Boy Scout Troop 107, said the scouts were excited about the idea of the homemade auto race and would help with cleanup and setup as part of their service projects. 

The village council did not vote on the proposal, but commissioners seemed excited about the idea. Commissioner Chris Harris invited council members to sponsor a car. “I’d like to see an Illinois Alarm car,” he said of the Mayor’s business, “and a Healy’s and an Elect Systems car,” referring to Mark Hosty’s affiliation with the local watering hole and Tom Mannix’s election consulting business. 

Kiwanis members think the event will be fun for children and will help draw visitors to the village now that SummerFest and the July 4th fireworks have been cancelled, Lordan said in an interview before the meeting. 

“We think we need to do more tourist destination events,” Lordan said. “Kiwanis members think this is something Forest Park can do, which other towns won’t do or can’t do,” he added. 

“There’s no hill in River Forest or Oak Park.”

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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