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Contestant readies for the starting line

KINGSTON – It’s the only Kingston parade that’s 99
and 44/100ths percent pure. The annual Soapbox Derby, now in its 20th
year, drew thousands of spectators down to lower Broadway Sunday, where
dozens of contestants participated in the quirky gravity-powered rolling
art show.

“It’s good clean fun,” said Mayor Shayne Gallo.

“It really does show how Kingston is very thriving in the arts,
and that’s important to showcase Kingston through artists and their
creations, also the beautiful historic Rondout waterfront. It really has
a lot to offer anyone who wants to come in here and enjoy the event,”
he said.
This derby had its first run down the hill in 1995, organized by local
artists Nancy and Yourij (“George”) Donskoj. The years 2011
and 2013 were skipped, but due to the huge amount of fun involved, nobody
bothered counting anniversaries, twenty years later.

Since 2014, the Derby is operated by Historic Kingston Waterfront (HKW),
a “museum without walls” chartered by the state Department
of Education, to help Kingston’s arts and cultural heritage destinations.
Downtown Art and Coffee shop proprietors Felix and Sarah Olivieri are
the new coordinators.

“I’m retired,” explained Mr. Donskoj, observing his
first year as a spectator. “I’m enjoying my friends and supporting
the event,’ the Derby co-founder said, adding that he also plans
to participate as a contestant next year. “If they do it again,
I’m there,” he said.

“Yourij always said he wants to be actually in the race,”
laughed Mr. Olivieri. “I’m trying my hardest just to stay
awake,” he noted, having not slept for several days while fabricating
the winner trophies on a Maker-Bot Replicator 3-D printer, donated for
the occasion. He predicted hovercraft go-carts within the next 20 years.

“This is beautiful; it’s so exciting,” said Ulster County
Legislator Jeanette Provenzano. “It’s all family oriented,
that’s what I like about it the most, so many young people, it’s
great,” she said.