Pedal-powered fun and art on the streets of Kensington

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Teams compete in last year's Kensington Kinetic Derby.

For teams in an annual competition in Kensington, it does little justice to call their vehicles bicycles.

The four-mile Kensington Kinetic Derby through the neighborhood's streets Saturday, May, 22, is part art exhibit, part race, part community pride - and a whole lot of fun.

Last year, more than 100 teams competed on pedal-powered floats, including a "bike" fashioned as a beer truck, a Wizard of Oz inspired "Wicked Witch" with a crew of flying monkeys, and other whimsical motifs.

"It's a celebration of art and human powered transit," said Sandy Saltzman, executive director of the nonprofit New Kensington Community Development Corporation, which along with the East Kensington Neighbors Association, sponsors the event.

The contest, which began in 2006, is part of the annual Trenton Avenue Arts Festival, which takes place from Noon to 5 p.m. from the 2000 block to the 2300 block of Trenton Avenue. The festival celebrates Kensington's artists, musicians, and restaurants.

Bill Barton, owner of Philadelphia Brewing Company, a craft brewer in Kensington, said workers from his company entered the "beer truck" named the Kensinger for one of his beer brands.

"It's just a fun day," Barton said. "It's fun to be participating in the parade itself. They have a little company pride. It's something different from making beer every day."

He said neighborhood residents cheer as the vehicles make their way through the neighborhood.

The contest also features a run through 20-foot mud pit, adding a little splashy excitement.

Barton said his team, which this year will feature a locomotive motif, is up to the challenge of the pit.

"As long as they can maintain speed, the mud is not match for them," Barton said.

Teams are awarded prizes for everything from the best break down to the best costumes, Saltzman said.

"The idea is to put the Kensington and Fishtown area on the map as a place to be, a really cool neighborhood to have your business or your art studio or your house, as a place that supports arts and sustainability," Saltzman said.

For more information on the festival, go to www.kinetickensington.org or call the New Kensington CDC at 215-427-0350.

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