Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire
Cars zoom down the track at Saturday’s Pinewood Derby. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the race to move a virtual format.

Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire Cars zoom down the track at Saturday’s Pinewood Derby. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the race to move a virtual format.

The race must go on

Cub Scouts take the Pinewood Derby high tech.

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop Juneau’s annual Cub Scout Pinewood Derby — it just changed it.

Five-ounce cars still raced down the track Saturday afternoon, but Cub Scouts watched from home via Zoom rather than cheering on their cars at the event.

A live play-by-play of the action and instant and slow-motion replays helped Scouts see how their cars fared in the race.

Cub Scouts make toys for education birds

“The Pinewood Derby is one of the highlights of the Cub Scout year,” said Keith Pahlke, Cub Master for Pack 10, which usually meets at Harborview School, the Douglas United Methodist Church or Gastineau School, all of which have been closed to the public March.

“Like every organization, we have struggled over the last year to keep our program active and our Scouts and families safe,” he said.

Pahlke said the idea of a virtual Pinewood Derby was born as he and fellow Cub Scout Leader Leonard Robertson discussed ways to host a virtual event. Pahlke, who is also the scoutmaster for Scouts BSA Troop 11, knew that Resurrection Lutheran Church had recently installed a three-camera television studio with a plan to host community events and stream them live.

The two groups teamed up, and the idea of live streaming the Pinewood Derby began to take shape.

“Once we decided to go big with the event, we opened it up to all Cub Scouts throughout Juneau and throughout Southeast Alaska,” Pahlke said, noting that Scouts from Ketchikan and Craig sent cars for the race.

Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

To participate in the Pinewood Derby, Scouts transform a block of wood and four wheels into a car with an adult’s help. Older siblings often pass down strategies to increase speed, and custom paint jobs are encouraged. The finished cars zoom down a metal track in a race against other cars until winners are determined.

•Contact Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

Keith Pahlke, Cub Master for Cub Scout Pack 10 provided live, race-by-race commentary at Juneau’s first-ever virtual Pinewood Derby Saturday. 
Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire

Keith Pahlke, Cub Master for Cub Scout Pack 10 provided live, race-by-race commentary at Juneau’s first-ever virtual Pinewood Derby Saturday. Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Dec. 3

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Teachers and school board members talk during the Juneau Board of Education and Juneau Education Association’s annual meet and greet in mid November. JEA contract negotiation team declared impasse last Friday and are in the process of filing for federal mediation.
Juneau teachers union declares impasse amid drawn-out negotiations

Still, the teachers union and district express optimism about working toward agreement.

This photo shows an Alaska State Trooper patrol vehicle (Juneau Empire File)
Troopers: Man killed raven, consumed its tongue

No arrests or citations made at this time, but investigation is underway.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Man sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to sex abuse of a minor

DNA and sex offender registration required as part of sentence.

t
Writers’ Weir: A window into the sea

A nonfiction story by Rodger Painter.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Dec. 8

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Kéet and Oscar wait patiently to play on the beach in winter in Wrangell. (Vivian Faith Prescott / For the Capital City Weekly)
Planet Alaska: Winter words

Phrases and words to use to create a Lingít language immersion outing in the winter.

Most Read