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Johns Hopkins Turtle Derby

Turtle derby 2014 logo

Every spring since 1931 (and now every May), turtles have ambled out from a starting gate and crawled to victory in the Annual Johns Hopkins Turtle Derby. The 2014 derby takes place Friday, May 16, 1:30-2:30 p.m., in the Peterson Courtyard of Johns Hopkins Hospital. The derby is free and open to the public.

Imports from U.S. turtle farms, where they are subsequently returned, turtles race" to the cheering of neighborhood children, Hopkins faculty, staff, residents, patients and their families, egged on by Johns Hopkins Medical School students in jockey silks. Proceeds from the sale of turtle "chances" and related items, such as T-shirts and pins, benefit the Department of Child Life at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, as well as the Perkins Day Care Center, an affiliate. 

Anyone can name a turtle and enter it in one of the afternoon's multiple races for a small fee in the two weeks leading up to the derby and purchase derby accessories, including T-shirts and pins, while they're at it.

In 2014, turtle "chances" and accessories are on sale outside of the Child Live TV studio, main level of the Bloomberg Children's Center building at Johns Hopkins Hospital, May 5-9 and May 12-15,  11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m.


In the event of rain, stay tuned.....

 Turtle Derby 2013 Slideshow

Turtle Derby 2008 Detail Photo

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.

The derby is organized and hosted by first year medical students and radiography students, with help from Child Life and the Office of Student Activities at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.