Monday, June 9, 2008

Call of the Wild shocks families at Derby Downs

Here's the story that didn't make the news from this weekend's local soap box derby races.

Around 11 a.m. Sunday, about an hour into the day's races, many of the families of the 33 racers were pitched in front of the grandstands looking to avoid the direct sunlight using whatever shade they could create.

On the far side of the grandstands was another family. A family of groundhogs. A momma and several babies. They sat on the grass on the hill in front of the nearby FOP lodge and seemed to be watching the derby cars whiz by.

The kids (moms especially) saw the groundhogs as great entertainment. Fuzzy wuzzy babies who kept sticking their heads out of their holes and catching a bit of action in between their summer fun.

With hundreds of eyes fixated on the little critters, a hawk swooped in across the race track and nabbed one of the baby groundhogs. No one in the crowd had even seen the bird circling the area, and now here it was attacking like LeBron heading to the hoop for a break-away.


Once the hawk had the baby in a good clutch, he took off ... lifting what now looked like a stuffed animal into the sky and above the race track.

The families, moms and kids especially, began yelling, screaming, and pointing. No one could believe it.

At a height of about 20 feet, the groundhog slipped from the hawk's mouth and plummeted back to earth, landing right next to the far rail of the race track. Thank goodness it didn't land on the track or even worse, on a moving derby car.

More screams and yells.

Beacon Journal photographer Ed Suba Jr. was the closest person to the skydiving groundhog and made his way over to see if it was dead. He nudged it with his foot a few times, but it didn't look like there was any life left in the little guy.

By this time, the momma groundhog had forced the other babies back in the hole but had returned to watch her lost child from a distance.

At this point, the derby P.A. announcer began doing play-by-play and encouraging everyone to cheer on the little guy to be reborn.

With derby families still gasping, the little guy started to wiggle. Then move. Then crawl back to his family hole.

All was well .. the day was saved .. all we were missing was Kenny Loggins singing "I'm alright, nobody worry about me" from Caddyshack.

Families began to hug and clap ... children restored their faith in the laws of nature.

It was almost as good as a downhill win.


Laura said...

Even though I wasn't there, you told the story well enough to make me feel like I was... that must've been a heck of a sight!!

Anonymous said...

So, let me if I got this right..The Hawk missed out on his lunch!

Anonymous said...

I heard an unconfirmed report that the hawk in question was really the Kent State Mascot that PETA was trying to save...... Peta is now saying they want nothing to do with the mascot because of this incident. They will not be making an effort to help the baby ground hog. Calls to the mother ground hog have not be returned.

Ed Esposito said...

Absolutely the best post I've read ANYWHERE in the last three months! Thanks!