Undying spirit

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DRC/David Minton
The Hannah’s Off the Square and Eagle & Wheeler team pulls ahead of the Fuzzy’s Taco Shop team in the coffin races on Hickory Street during Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival on Saturday.
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Coffins careen down Hickory to liven up Day of the Dead

Custom-made coffins flew down Hickory Street on Saturday as part of Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival.

An estimated 500 people looked on from behind hay bales as 19 teams raced two at a time down the street in the coffin races, which were done in the style of a soapbox derby.

The festival also included a children’s area with music and storytelling as well as music and entertainment for all ages.

Eight-year-old Asten Kirby, the youngest racer, was dressed in a skeleton outfit as he jumped into his coffin.

Kirby’s vehicle was sponsored by the Denton County Farm Bureau and built by 3-Star Custom Cabinets. He had raced it in the soapbox derby during Pilot Point’s Bonnie and Clyde Days earlier this month. 

“Everyone said his car looked like a coffin,” said Chance Kirby, Asten’s father, who, along with his son, had his face painted white and black for the event.

“The coffin race is more our speed,” he said.

Asten Kirby said he was excited he actually gets to drive something.

He took second place in the races after the Seniors in Motion entry. The Jupiter House coffin took third.

Drew Naizer, dressed as Batman’s nemesis the Joker, drove the Seniors in Motion coffin to victory. Naizer said the vehicle was a joint effort between himself, his roommate and a couple of neighbors.

“I knew what was going to win,” he said. “It was going to be the push start and the wheels.”

The racing coffins were different shapes and sizes. A couple of teams, including Lucky Lou’s, used a real casket. Hannah’s Off the Square and Eagle & Wheeler teamed up to create a bold orange coffin, while a local chiropractor raced an adjustment table instead — although his crashed shortly into the race.

Jupiter House owner Joey Hawkins, who organized the coffin races, was impressed by the artwork and the time each team put into the vehicles.

He said there weren’t many guidelines this year. The inner part of the wheels had to be six inches, riders had to wear helmets and the coffins needed a braking system.

“I love how an 8-year-old placed second,” Hawkins said.

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is rmehlhaff@dentonrc.com.

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