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Mush ado about sledding: Scouts hold ‘Klondike derby’ in Coney

To the races!: Boy Scout troupes sprint along the beach in Coney Island for the annual Klondike Derby sled races.
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Call it Coney’s Iditarod.

Brooklyn Cub and Boy Scouts pulled hand-made sleighs across the sands of Coney Island in the annual Klondike Derby on Feb. 4, where aspiring frontiersman put their survival skills to the test with cold-weather challenges and sled races. The event was a chance for the pint-sized survivalists to show off their know-how and scout camaraderie, said one organizer.

“This gives them a chance to get outside and meet people, show off their skills, and have some fun,” said Robby Riess, Klondike Derby event chairman. “Like I say to the parents, ‘If you give us your boy, we’ll do our best to help him become a young man by teaching him values and skills.’ And this is a part of that.”

Nearly 100 scouts trekked from across the borough for the winter games. Scouts speared the beach with harpoons, fashioned fishing poles, and waddled across the sand in the penguin relay.

But the main draw was the kid-powered sled races. Each cub pack (ages 5–11) and boy scout troop (11–8) entered with handcrafted wood sleighs. Scouts were given a specific design to follow as a test of skill — but the kids had free rein on decorating the runners, said an organizer.

“They had specific instructions to follow, but they could go crazy with the decorations — and some did,” said organizer Kent Woo. “Sleds were painted in bright colors, covered in Christmas ornaments, and string lights even.”

Runners sliced across the sand with six kids pulling, one pushing, and one lucky scout riding to the finish line. And if competitors didn’t place — they didn’t leave empty handed, said Riess.

“Everyone got a patch with an igloo and an Eskimo holding a wooden sled to remember the event by,” said Riess. “And at the least they all had some fun and got some good memories out of it.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 1:34 am, July 10, 2018
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