An undated photo of Paul Arca at the Arbutus Soap Box Derby.
An undated photo of Paul Arca at the Arbutus Soap Box Derby. (Courtesy Photo / Victor Arca)

Paul Arca ran the Arbutus Soap Box Derby from 1967 until 2005 or 2006. And then, even after he became too old to oversee it, he continued to go as often as possible to watch the race.

After he died in 2018, his son, Victor Arca, thought one of the best ways to honor his father’s memory would be to set up a fundraiser to help cover the expenses of the derby — trophies, T-shirts, small prizes.

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“I know that he would have wanted this,” said Arca, who still lives in Arbutus.

The fundraiser has taken a few forms, none that are entirely permanent. Arca said he is working on ways to solidify the memorial.

The derby is part of the annual Independence Day celebration in Arbutus. This year, events will kick off with a 10K race at 8 a.m. behind Arbutus Middle School. At 9 a.m., it’s time for the downhill derby races.

After the derby races come a flag raising, a parade and a block party.

“It’s the Arbutus community that keeps it going. Clearly, races could be held anywhere, but this is something unique to Arbutus area,” Arca said.

Last year, Arca was able to raise about $500 for the derby through a Facebook campaign. This year, things have been a bit slower. A GoFundMe page set up by organizers of the derby has raised only $30 so far, from Arca himself.

Jess Taukulis, who grew up in Arbutus but now lives in Howard County, is helping to organize the derby now with her sister and father.

“Arbutus really has that small town feel. It’s heartwarming to be able to contribute in this small way,” Taukulis said.

The derby is not in financial trouble this year, but Taukulis said it can get “a little bit pricey,” including expenses like a deejay and trophies for participants.

Organizers have said about a dozen people race and about 300 people turn out to watch. Taukulis said in the future, she and her family may work to help procure supplies for racers to build cars, or hold workshops on how to construct them.

“It’s always been a big tradition for my family. It’s something that we’ve always done,” she said.

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