FREEZING WEATHER, icy sidewalks and unplowed roads couldn't stop the excitement of Cub Pack 115's annual Pinewood Derby on Saturday afternoon.
Luckily, the racecourse was set up indoors. The Crofton Woods Elementary School gymnasium provided warmth and a nice, dry place for more than 90 Scouts and their families to test the result of months of hard work fine-tuning their wooden speedsters.
Each car began as a plain block of pine. Boys and their parents spent hours planning how to build their cars, make them look good and go fast. Some of the entries were sleek, others creative. One car was carved in the shape of a canoe, complete with Indian drivers.
Cub Scout blue and gold were the most common colors. But other cars were orange for Tiger Cubs, or red and black -- just because they looked sporty.
Each car was carefully weighed, making sure that none had an unfair advantage of too many lead weights. Then the boys lined up their cars on the derby track. Amid high tension and high-pitched screams, the cars set off down the track, race after race, to determine the fastest.
Pack Champion honors were won by Tiger Cub Iver Jenstrom, whose car also took first place in his age division. The first-grader's car was also the pack's speediest -- which Cub Pack Master Ben Brown termed a remarkable feat.
In all the years that Brown has been involved in Scouting (he is an Eagle Scout), he could not recall a Tiger Cub -- the youngest Scout category -- taking first place in the Pinewood Derby.
First-place honors in the Wolf division went to second-grader Danny Brady. Third-grader Brandon Kuhn was the Bear champion. Ross McClurg took first place in the first-year Webelo category, and second-year Webelo honors went to Robert Wetzel.
Trophies for the winners will be presented at the pack's annual Blue and Gold Banquet this month. Recognition will also be awarded for especially creative designs, but those honors will be kept secret until the banquet.
My kids have grown far beyond their Cub Scout days, so I had forgotten the excitement that goes along with the decades-old Pinewood Derby. But watching the wonder bursting from the young boys' faces and the pride in their parents' smiles, I remember why this is a truly beloved tradition.
Tobacco-Free Kids Week
Area school groups, families and other organizations serving youths are invited to take part in planning this year's Tobacco-Free Kids Week, to be held March 13-19 as part of the Anne Arundel County Health Department's Learn to Live cancer-prevention program.
The theme for this year's week is "Make Smoking History." Dozens of local organizations will hold anti-tobacco activities, ranging from poster contests to educational displays. Groups will also compete for free tickets to a Bowie Baysox baseball game.
Activity planning kits are available free from the health department's Learn to Live Line at 410-222-7979, or by logging onto www.smokingstinks-aaco.org. The kits include ideas for activities, tips on publicizing events, and an order form for free Tobacco-Free Kids Week supplies such as note pads, stickers and pencils.
A highlight will be a pledge-signing contest co-sponsored by the Bowie Baysox and the Health Department. Contest details are available in the kits.
Last year's Tobacco-Free Kids Week involved 104 community groups in Anne Arundel and reached more than 44,000 youngsters with anti-tobacco messages, according to the Health Department.
Lunch Bunch 'Nunsense'
The Crofton Association of Retired Persons is sponsoring a Lunch Bunch trip Feb. 9 to see the musical comedy "Nunsense" at Chesapeake Music Hall on Busch's Frontage Road in Annapolis.
Cost for the luncheon show will be $25. Information: Grace Walker, 410-721-8830.