How many yo-yos does it take to make a Guinness world record? Nobody knows -- yet. But the Baltimore area may win the honor with an event later this month connected to a traveling yo-yo show currently on display at Marley Station mall in Glen Burnie.
Yo-yo enthusiasts of all ages are invited to participate Saturday, Sept. 28, in a mall gathering intended to establish the first "Guinness Book of World Records" mark for the most people doing yo-yo tricks at one time and one place.
The event will be held in conjunction with "The Return of the Yo-Yo," an exhibit about the history of the tantalizing toy originally called in this country a "return top." Officials of the record-keeping publishers have been contacted to rule on the event.
The record try is being called a "Yo-Off" by the mall and co-sponsor radio station WQSR-FM. Register for the 4 p.m. event in advance at the mall's customer service center. A yo-yo contest is also planned at 7 p.m. the day of the record attempt.
"We really think every kid in America should have a yo-yo. It teaches discipline, patience and persistence, qualities we need in everything we do," said Stuart "Professor Yo-Yo" Crump as he demonstrated some yo-yo basics to onlookers at the mall during a recent visit connected with the exhibit. Crump edits the Yo-Yo Times monthly newsletter.
He and several other luminaries in the "State of Yo" were giving away plastic yo-yos and helping young people -- and a few not so young -- learn the basic tricks,such as the Sleeper, Walk the Dog and Around the World.
Among the demonstrators were Dennis Cramer, who does a stunning choreographed routine with two whirling yo-yos, and Tommy Flores, an 80-something Philippines-born Baltimorean who for two decades (1932-1952) was a professional Duncan demonstrator. Although he apologized for being "a little rusty" after almost 30 years without a yo-yo workout, Flores still managed some tricky tricks with his orange, hand-painted 1940s model. He also autographed giveaway yo-yos for kids.
Also on hand was Donald Duncan Jr., son of the man who is credited with popularizing the toy in America. Indeed, most former kids know the Duncan brand yo-yo as the most popular model in the world, although it was ultimately joined by competing brands such as Royal and Cheerio.
"I don't think my dad ever realized how popular the yo-yo would become," observed Duncan, who now is in charge of an Arizona-based company called Playmaxx, which manufactures the plastic Pro-Yo. (The Duncan brand continues, but is manufactured by an unrelated firm.)
Duncan told the story about how his father, who also is credited with inventing the Eskimo Pie and the Good Humor ice cream cart, saw a Filipino man named Pedro Flores demonstrating a native toy in a hotel lobby in San Francisco in 1927. By 1930, he had bought the rights for the first Duncan Yo-Yo and a national fad was born.
The Duncan family collection of yo-yos makes up the "Return of the Yo-Yo" exhibit at the mall. Some 500 models of old and new vintage are included, most of them in glass cases.
One, however, is out in the open: the Guinness record-holder for largest yo-yo in the world, a 258-pounder made and once actually worked (from a crane suspended over water) by a California dentist named Tom Kuhn, manufacturer of the "Tom Kuhn No-Jive 3-in-1 Yo-Yo."
"I'd like the see the guy who could flick that one," said one visitor to his young son.
Almost 4,000 people passed through the nostalgic exhibit in its first weekend on display, according to mall officials. Yo-yo workshops are planned at the exhibit this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Friday, Sept. 27 from 7 to 8 p.m.
The "Return of the Yo-Yo" exhibit will be on display at Marley Station during regular mall hours through Sept. 28. For information about the exhibit or the world record attempt, call the mall at 760-8900.