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HEAD OVER HOOPS
by Nanci Rubin
04/21/10
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HEAD OVER HOOPS


Did you know that the hula-hoop was used 3000 years ago? Itís a really ancient invention! No single inventor or modern company can claim that they invented the first hula-hoop. Nobody seems to know who came up with the concept. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians used it for recreation and exercise. Early hoops were fashioned from earthy materials such as wood, grass, vines, bamboo, and metal. Native Americans used hoops as a target for teaching young braves accuracy for hunting.

During the 14th century, the hula-hoop rolled itís way into England. Children and adults alike whirled the hoop. According to medical records of that era physicians blamed the hula-hoop for heart attacks and back problems, and banned its use. The Indonesians also banned its use because the shaking of the hips in public was considered indecent.

In 1957 Richard Kerr and Arthur ďSpudĒ Melin of the Wham-O toy company traveled to Australia. While there, they saw school children twirling bamboo rings around their waist while they constantly moved their hips. This inspired them to re-invent the hula-hoop. A new plastic, called Marlex, was chosen for their hoop. They were hoping to patent the hoop by using this new material. They could not, because making the device out of a new material did not meet the patent requirements of originality. The hula-hoop rolled into the fabulous 1950ís. Did you know that this was an era of fads, fun, and lots of cool stuff? Some of the popular games and toys of that decade were Silly Putty, Whiffle ball, Scrabble, Frisbee and Mr. Potato Head. Many of those inventions are still around today. But in 1957 nearly everyone had a hula-hoop.

By the early1960ís the hula-hoop went into a slump. This decade was unlike none other! America was at war in Vietnam and young people were restless with change. They thrived on challenges. This forced Mr. Kerr and Mr. Melin to come up with a way to re-launch the hoop. Wham-O staged a National Competition in the United States in conjunction with the National Parks and Recreation Network. These competitions grew from 500 United States cities in 1968 to more than 2000 cities in 1980.


The first people to win hula-hoop contests were two 11 year olds from Mississippi. In 1960, they kept their hoops whirling for 11 hours and 14 minutes! That record was smashed twenty-seven years later by a young lady who twirled her hoop for 90 hours! 2007 set a new record by a young man who whirled 105 hoops simultaneously! If you have ever used the hula-hoop you know how much practice it takes to keep it going and how remarkable these fetes truly were.

Hula-hoop has recently re-emerged in the form of hoop-dance. World Hoop Day began in 2006 and is celebrated internationally. Hoopers dance in every city and country, raising funds and donating hoops to those who cannot afford them. Exhibitions are given all over the world as dancers hoop with flaming hoops, multiple hoops and keep a rhythmic flow in time with the music.

The Hula-Hoop Girls of Fredericksburg, VA gave a performance of hoop dance in Hurkamp Park on May 14, 2009. When the girls were asked how they got involved with hoop dance they told the reporter from the Free Lance Star that they had become interested after watching others perform tricks at music festivals and watching performances on You Tube. Their three months of patience, practice and persistence proved productive as they demonstrated what their hard work had accomplished.

The hula-hoop has been swinging through history for 3000 years and todayís hoop-dancers have creatively displayed another use for hula-hoop. Who is to say how the hoop will be used in the future? One can be assured that it will swing its way around in young, creative minds.


If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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