Lights, Camera, Action

Stand-ins for the bachelor and his date – aided by Joe – do a trial run.

November 21, 2019

Joe at work

Cleveland has been a favorite filming location for movies – from as early as The Fortune Cookie with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in 1966, to Captain American: The Winter Soldier in 2014.

Now, thanks to Joe Markowski, meter reader at The Illuminating Company, Cleveland can add another filming success to its list – and a very popular one at that! ABC network’s reality show, The Bachelor, reached out to the Cleveland Soap Box Derby (CSBD) for assistance with filming a segment in Cleveland.

The premise of the show revolves around a bachelor with a pool of romantic interests from which he is expected to select a wife. During the season, the bachelor and contestants travel to various venues for their dates, while he narrows down the candidate field until selecting one for a marriage proposal.

After touring the city, the production crew loved Cleveland – especially the skyline, Playhouse Square area and the CSBD racetrack. The crew decided that Cleveland would make a great background for a dating segment where the couple participates in a derby race.

Joe, who is treasurer of the CSBD, agreed to work with the crew to make it happen.

The biggest challenge, according to Joe, was staging a racing track in the Playhouse Square area.

“The crew loved the idea of a race in Playhouse Square, which required building ramps and a track in the area,” said Joe. “We also used a car that seats two so the bachelor and his date would be in one car, and we recruited four current racers, ages 10-14, to compete against the couple. We also had about 1,000 extras who lined the streets to cheer them on.”

Spectators line up to cheer on the racers.

Joe added, “It was an awesome time and definitely an experience I’ll never forget. The crew was very nice and they also made a nice donation to the Cleveland Soap Box Derby.”

The new season of The Bachelor premieres in January and the Cleveland segment is currently scheduled to air as the fourth episode.

You can say that Joe and his family – wife, Jackie, and adult children, Dale and Bailey – are Soap Box Derby enthusiasts. He’s been a volunteer with the organization for 15 years and has served as treasurer since 2006. His daughter, Bailey, is a former Soap Box Derby world champ of the three-lane challenge.

In addition to his CSBD volunteer duties, Joe also is the assistant varsity coach for girls’ basketball at Parma High School.