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Turtle Derby 2011: To Infinity and Beyond!

May 02, 2011
Derby 2011 2

A harbinger of spring in Maryland, the annual Johns Hopkins Turtle Derby takes place Friday, May 20, 2011. Now in its 80th year, the derby is hosted by Johns Hopkins medical students and benefits the Department of Child Life and the Perkins Day Care Center in East Baltimore.  

The races begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Preclinical Teaching Building courtyard on the Johns Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore. For a small fee, anyone can name a turtle and enter it to win a cash prize. Entry forms, pins and derby t-shirts will be on sale in Hopkins Children’s lobby May 5 through May 19, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  

This year’s logo, “To Infinity and Beyond,” was designed by Jody Chapman, a graduate student in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at Johns Hopkins. 

A traditional prelude to the Preakness in Baltimore, the turtle derby's origins are traced back to Benjamin Frisby, a hospital caretaker and doorman who kept a small turtle pen outside the original hospital administration building.  Soon, a racetrack was built and wagers were made, all in the name of building community among the medical residents. 

Every spring since 1931, turtles have ambled out from a starting gate and crawled to victory across a grassy patch or, for a number a years, a tennis court on campus. Imports from U.S. turtle farms, to which they are subsequently returned, turtles "race" to the cheering of neighborhood children, Hopkins faculty, staff, patients and their families. Johns Hopkins Medical School students in jockey silks egg on the contestants and audience alike. 

For more information, contact the Department of Child Life, 410-955-6276

Learn more about the Johns Hopkins Turtle Derby