Whooosh! Stride Rite lets little feet take one loud step for kidkind

January 28, 1994|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,Staff Writer

Once, sneakers merely glowed and flashed. Now they roar.

Stride Rite, that staid purveyor of sensible footwear, has launched Space Walk sneakers. When activated, they not only light up, they blast off with a "Whooooooooosh!"

The rocket sound comes from a gizmo -- a combination computer chip-battery- speaker -- tucked into the pouch on the right sneaker's tongue. To activate the lift-off sound, Space Walk wearers need only press the device with their ankle.

Stride Rite is "the first footwear company to offer 'sight 'n' sound' technology," says Laurie Brackett, the company's public relations specialist. "The novelty market in children's footwear is really growing."

How will Stride Rite's high-tech sneaks play in school, where classrooms full of roaring rockets could interfere with the learning process?

"Traitors!" says Colleen Moore, an administrative assistant for Stoneleigh Elementary School, of Stride Rite.

Actually, Space Walk shoes have not yet posed a threat to the educational system.

If the noise did become a problem, students could be asked to remove the offending sound device, under Baltimore County school dress code language, she says.

In any case, "things that make noise" are easier to deal with than controversial attire like abortion T-shirts, Ms. Moore says.

Without providing hard figures, Ms. Brackett says the shoes, targeted for those 4 to 6 years old, are selling well around the country. The shoes, for girls and boys, come with laces or Velcro and range from $47 to $50. Space Walk shoes are good for approximately four months or 10,000 activations, Ms. Brackett says. Expect more noisy footwear in the future, she adds. Maybe, she suggests, shoes that know their ABCs.

For more information on Space Walk shoes or battery replacement, call the Stride Rite dealer finder number: (800) 662-9788.

WALK THE WALK

To hear the whooooooosh! made by Space Walk shoes, call Sundial, the Sun's telephone information service at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County call 268-7736, 836-5028 in Harford County, 848-0338 in Carroll County. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6137 after you hear the greeting.

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