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Girl Scouts show competitive side in Powder Puff Derby

BUFFALO TOWNSHIP -- Nearly 60 girls from Armstrong, Allegheny and Butler counties proved Saturday that Pinewood Derby car races aren't the sole province of boys.

The Girl Scouts, ranging in age from kindergarten to high school, participated in their own version of the race, the Powder Puff Derby, at Buffalo Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Glitter and pink paint were common decorations, but the races otherwise were the same as those popularized by the Cub Scouts: small wooden cars are powered only by gravity as they compete on a sloped track.

Terri Clinton of Buffalo Township, whose Cadette Troop No. 20085 hosted the event, said they started the Powder Puff Derby five years after her son outgrew Cub Scouts.

"We thought it would be cool for Girl Scouts," said Clinton, whose Freeport Area troop invites neighboring troops from the Deer Lakes, Natrona Heights and Sarver areas.

A local Cub Scout pack loans the girls their derby track, a metal structure with a starting gate and computerized timing system.

"We're impressed with the set-up," said Christine Windows of West Deer.

"It's a good opportunity for the Girl Scouts," said Windows, whose daughters, Jessica and Alexandra, were derby participants for the first time.

Jessica, 9, painted her car green and added a swath of brown to resemble a Girl Scout sash. She hoped to take home the prize for the best Girl Scout-themed car, but that honor went to Victoria Huff.

"They all look wonderful," Christine Windows.

Clinton said a lot of moms, dads and troop leaders help the girls design and assemble their cars. Some opted for a simple wedge shape, while others whittled away in an attempt to improve style and aerodynamics.

Heavier cars tend to move faster, but weight is capped at 5 ounces, Clinton said. There also are guidelines for the length of the cars and the amount of space allowed between the front and rear wheels.

After the initial weigh-in, Clinton said several girls continued to alter their cars to meet weight or other standards.

Designs included a silver shoe that lit up, a pink pig-shaped car and a DeLorean from the movie "Back to the Future."

Jessica Kibler, 9, of Buffalo Township added a small head, complete with hair fashioned from brown yarn, to her car to resemble a driver.

"My car won all four races, so I have a good shot of winning," said Jessica, who also was participating for the first time.

Her mother, Lori Kibler, encouraged both her Brownie troop from Deer Lakes and her Freeport Area Daisy troop to enter the contest.

"They've been looking forward to it," Kibler said. "It's a great opportunity for the girls."

Kibler said she likes that the girls get to attempt something more commonly associated with Boy Scouts: "There are no walls in Girls Scouts."

Daisy Scout Ashley Arner, 6, of South Buffalo proudly displayed her multicolored car, which she painted to resemble a piece of cake.

Ashley, who came in fifth place in the overall time trials, was quick to display her favorite part of the event: "I liked getting a trophy."

Derby results

Here's the list of girls who won certificates or trophies in Saturday's Powder Puff Derby at Buffalo Township Volunteer Fire Department:

Fastest cars overall:

First place: Grace Zuccolotto

Second: Kaylee Polena

Third: Mirabelle Schiller

Fourth: Jenna Smith

Fifth: Ashley Arner

Fastest cars by age level:

Daisy: Mirabelle Schiller

Brownie: Grace Zuccolotto

Junior: Kerstyn Pomfret

Cadette: Kaylee Polena

Design winners:

Best in show: Aurora Ray

Best Girl Scout design: Victoria Huff

Best carton design: Emily Kondrick

Best non-car design: Kiley McIntyre

Most colorful: Rebecca Kibler

Most patriotic: Brianna Sutara

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