Monday, May 23, 2011
Bucktown Alley Dispatch: Longest Yo-Yo String World Record
When James Buffington was eight years old, his parents took him to see the Smothers Brothers, where one of the comedians used a yo-yo in his act. During the show's intermission, James purchased a yo-yo from a vendor.
Flash forward 25 or so years, and James is 33, founder of the Chicago Yo-Yo Club, and at a sewing store in his hometown of southwest suburban Shorewood, purchasing polyester sewing thread so he can hand-thread his Aquarius brand yo-yo, because, as he tells it, "cotton would snap," at least considering the length he wants to go: the longest documented usable yo-yo string ever, a feat that will likely make it into the Guinness Book of World Records if all goes as planned and James smashes the existing Guiness record of 35-ft, and 2 inches.
This past Saturday, a swarm of curious onlookers, Jason's parents, Sherry and Joel, yo-yo club members like 13-year-old twins Cally and Jack (who are 'Expert 1' level yo-yoers and chatted briefly with the pipeline), and expert witnesses like Mary and Anita, founders of the Chicago International Toy & Game Fair trade show, waited in the alley alongside Bucktown's Cat & Mouse Game Store, as James and his trusty Aquarius yo-yo took to the roof of the building.
Official architect Alec Lisec (who by day works in affordable housing planning) was on the scene, using a laser measuring device to determine length along the side of the building.
Among those in the crowd who personally know James, there was a lot of confidence that he'd break the record. "He did it in St. Louis," Sherry told me, adding that it was not fully documented and thus would not be eligible for Guinness Book of World Record consideration. We were standing alongside trash bins in the alley, waiting for James to re-thread his tangled Aquarius. His first attempt was a no-go.
Thankfully, the second attempt went a bit smoother, though James fumbled the catch and did not catch the Aquarius firmly in the palm of his hand, which is a requirement.
By the third attempt, The Pipeline was admittedly getting a bit nervous for James, wondering if this would be it, or if there would be a fourth or even fifth attempt. We held out breath, hit play on our video, and rooted for James to catch the yo-yo.
And he did!
The crowd went wild!
I cheered like a freak on the video, forgetting that it records audio too!
Per architect, Alec, James & the Aquarius yo-yo descended 39 ft. 9 5/16" inches!!
There was immediate talk of going for 40-feet, and breaking his own record (if anyone is curious, the length of an average yo-yo string is 3-4 ft), though the crowd started to disburse, and by then this e-newsletter realized she should check out a new cafe, Sacco Bruno, up the street from Cat & Mouse, at the corner of Leavitt & Armitage, before it closed for the day, on its first official day of business. Indeed, it was just another Saturday on the 'streets of Wicker Park' and Bucktown, where we've been wandering around since April of 2009. But the longest usable yo-yo thread was for sure the biggest story we covered this past week. At least in our book. Congrats, James!