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Gainesville Set To Host Second Kinetic Derby Saturday

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Menagerie in Motion Kinetic Derby participant Mike Randall drills PVC pipes in preparation for creating what will be the tail of the dragon. The derby, which features sculptures built around human-powered vehicles, is set for Saturday in downtown Gainesville. (Rachel Howard/WUFT News)

Active Streets Alliance is set to host its second annual Menagerie in Motion Kinetic Derby on Saturday.

People of all ages will race on sculptures built around human-powered vehicles, like bikes and scooters.

The Kinetic Derby is part of a larger event called Chimera Fest and will take place at Depot Park in downtown Gainesville.

A parade of the vehicles is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., followed by an awards ceremony and closing remarks at noon.

Joseph Floyd, co-chair of Active Streets Alliance, said he first thought of the idea while working with students in preparation for the University of Florida’s football homecoming parade in 2012. The students ended up creating a 24-foot-long bicycle alligator sculpture.

“It was this great opportunity to merge more than one of my passions,” Floyd said, “so I think that was a pivotal event in this process to me.”

Because of growing interest in similar projects, Floyd said he decided to start the Kinetic Derby as a community event that he hopes will be the spring equivalent of UF’s homecoming parade.

Artist and Gainesville resident Jenn Garrett said building a sculpture for the derby “doesn’t have to be daunting thing.”

“I made my kids a unicorn and a dragon out of posterboard, cardboard and just other really accessible materials,” she said.

Garrett said that without Floyd and Active Streets Alliance, her children wouldn’t have any comparable creative opportunities.

“For my daughter, [the Kinetic Derby] was about making her dreams come true,” she said. “I mean, what little girl doesn’t dream about riding a unicorn, and what little boy ever gets to ride his own dragon?”

Some of the sculptures are made from recycled or thrown out materials.

Participant Mike Randall said that he usually finds unwanted scraps and imagines how he can repurpose them for his latest creations.

“I think that every community needs to have its little bit of weirdness,” he said of the Kinetic Derby. “I think this event definitely adds to that element of weirdness and eccentricity that keeps the community interesting and vibrant.”

About Maggie Lorenz

Maggie is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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