By Jessica Bagley firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Zachary Shields continued a family legacy Thursday night with a speedy victory over his diapered challengers in the finals of Canal Fest’s annual crawling competition.
With 15-month-old Zachary’s first place win, he one-upped his older brother, Alexander, who was the Diaper Derby runner-up in 2010. Zachary won his parents a $100 gift card, while Cameron Theal, a 10-month-old from Depew, won second place and a $50 gift card.
Per derby tradition, one parent sets their baby down for the launch, while another family member coaxes the tot to the finish line with an irresistible item — cell phones and stuffed animals were popular picks Thursday.
In each of Zachary’s three heats, he took off immediately and sped on all fours to his prize at the finish line — his favorite blocks, which he promptly knocked over.
“I think that was the fastest race in Diaper Derby history,” Maryalice Demler, Channel 2 anchor and the event’s emcee, joked after the baby’s victory.
Race organizer Mary Beth Kupiec, from DeGraff Memorial Hospital, which sponsors the event, said they were well prepared for the steamy temperatures Thursday night.
“We’ve done it hotter,” she said. “Last year, we did it in the rain, the year before that, it was 97 degrees, and every baby showed up ... we try to keep it outside and as close to its original form as possible.”
Parents were well prepared too, and came with hats, sunscreen and spray bottles to cool themselves and their babies off.
Kupiec said the swiftness of the event also helps, as the derby is usually over in under an hour, and the tots can quickly get back into air conditioning or a cool pool.
“We are a well-oiled machine,” she said before the event. “Some of the heats take one second, others take five minutes.”
And boy, was she right.
Although Zachary took off to a quick crawling start in his races, some other babies weren’t as speedy. In one heat, three babies simply refused to move.
At the start of that heat, two of the contestants immediately began crying, while the third just laid on his stomach, smiling at the crowd.
The moms at the finish line toted goldfish crackers and toys, but the kids were not amused. Parents pretended to crawl to encourage their babies. The contestants didn’t move an inch.
Then, a minute or so after the race began, the third baby started crying and pounding his fists on the ground — and all three were staring helplessly at their parents.
“This is the stubborn heat,” one audience member joked.
Eventually, Demler was forced to suspend the rules to get things moving, and allowed the launching parents to take the babies halfway along the race pad.
But the crying just continued, and the baby with the closest birthday — not the fastest feet — advanced to the next round.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Demler said.Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley