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Kids & Education

Cub Scout troop holds annual Pinewood Derby in Bay Ridge

For the kids of Cub Scout Pack 313, it felt like the Indy 500 at their annual Pinewood Derby championship on Sat., Jan. 27.

The race was held at Saint Anselm Catholic Academy, 365 83rd St., in Bay Ridge.

The Pinewood Derby is a Cub Scout tradition dating back to 1953. The Scouts receive a car kit in advance and build the cars at home. The cars can weigh no more than five ounces on race day.

They perform in a series of heats containing six cars each. Prizes are awarded not only to the fastest three cars in each division, but also in categories such as “coolest-looking car,” “best paint job” and “best theme car,” among others. Many of the scouts design their cars with themes such as pets, superheroes or Fortnight, for example.

Cubmaster John Cafiero and his wife, Cub Scout Committee Chair Christina Cafiero, along with the other den leaders, work closely with Troop 13 Assistant Scoutmaster Harry D’Onofrio and the rest of Troop 313 to make this a day the Cub Scouts and their parents will never forget.

This is the first year the Cafieros are running the pack and they have already doubled last year’s enrollment. “We had over 60 scouts race their cars this year,” Christina told this paper.

“Planning for the event starts at the beginning of the school year and ramps up during the holiday season, when the Cub Scouts are presented with the official pinewood derby races and rules,” Tiger Den Leader John McCluskey explained.

The Cub Scouts and their parents then begin to plan on what the simple block of pine and four plastic wheels will become.

“For the younger Lion and Tiger Dens (kindergarten and first grade) it is as simple as painting and decorating the wood block,” McCluskey said. “The Wolf, Bear and Webelos Dens (second through fifth grades) can carve and shape their cars in addition to decorating.”

McCluskey’s six-year-old son John was proud to show off his St. Bernard designed car. “It’s like my little puppy Sparky that I got it for Christmas,” he said.

Race winners receive trophies and all Cub Scouts are awarded certificates and patches for their efforts and good sportsmanship.

The three winners for each Scout level were John Cafiero, James Chase and Patrick Cahill for the Webelos; Michael Mazza, Francesco Friedman and Thurston Rathbone for the Bear Scouts; Daniel McKenna, Sami Cobuz and Lucian Cobuz for the Wolf Den; Ethan Pennachio, Nicholas Badolato and Noah Bonilla for the Tiger Den; and Gavin Gleason, Michael Rizak and Oliver Jantsch for the Lions.

The Boy Scouts of America was formed in 1910 by retired British Army officer Robert Baden-Powell.

The Boy Scouts of America is a volunteer-run program, according to the Boy Scouts’ Brooklyn District Executive Jimmy Cho.

“The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law,” Cho said. “There are over 2,400 traditional Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts all over Brooklyn.”

In addition, more than 2,000 Scouts attend summer camp including weekend activities, outings, and training events. “Scouting is thriving in the borough from Bay Ridge to East New York, from Greenpoint to Coney Island,” added Cho.

Upcoming Scout activities include the annual blue and gold dinner with its LEGO theme and the annual spring camping trip and year-end barbecue.

For more information about joining local scouting, contact Brooklyn District Executive Jimmy Cho at 212-651-2877 or email

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