The History and Views of Twins Days
Andrew R. Miller
Executive Director, Twins Days Festival Committee
(from the 1995 Twins Days program book)
This history was written so even those of you who weren’t born when this Festival began can relate to the various happenings that were taking place around us, and compare them to what was happening at the celebration of Twins Days.
1976 begins as the Steelers beat the Cowboys 21-17 in Super Bowl X, Barbara Walters inks a $1 million dollar deal with NBC, the world spends $300 billion on arms, and our country is in the midst of celebrating its 200th birth day with celebrations, fireworks and a spectacular visit by the tall ships from around the world. While these festivities are taking place, a small group of dedicated people are planning Twinsburg’s participation in the bicentennial celebration that year and decide to set aside one day for Twins, which, unknown to anyone, is the birth of Twins Days.
The Twins Day Festival in 1976 started with a flag raising and dedication of the Wilcox Monument on the square, the dedication of the first picnic shelter at Glenn Chamberlin Park. 1976 also saw many other firsts, such as the now famous Revco Marathon, which started in Twinsburg and finished in Cleveland. “Thunder Chicken” performed a skydiving act and the Fireman’s Association served a hamburger, corn-on-the-cob, and a soft drink for 76 cents. There were 37 sets of twins in attendance that first year.
1977 starts with President Carter being sworn in. Alex Haley receives a Pulitzer for “Roots”, Elvis dies at age 42 and the famed Volkswagen Beetle is phased out.
But in Twinsburg, determined not to let the idea die, Wib Cramer, Ray Diersing, Ron Candow, Phyllis and Paul McGhee, Jan Maxwell and Laura Tyson went into action, did the legwork and planning and, instead of excuses, made the second Twins Day happen. The success of Twins Days, along with the throngs of spectators, volunteers and others, have shown that Twinsburg can, indeed, support an annual event. There were 35 booths that year. The food booths were primarily operated by local service organizations w anting to raise funds for their treasuries. Booth rental was $1. A band concert was held, along with a Gong Show and a Square Dance Exhibition. The parade that year consisted of a “bike-and-buggy” parade for children 12 years and younger. All three of the Cleveland television stations reported on the event that year. There were 38 sets of twins who attended that second year and we were on our way.
1978 is heralded in as Washington beats Michigan in a Rose Bowl upset 27-20, the Senate ratifies a pact giving the canal to Panama, Al Unser is the fifth driver to capture three Indy titles, 100,000 march on Washington for ERA extension, while Muhammad Ali defeats Leon Spinks for the heavyweight boxing crown. The new TV series “Dallas” debuts, Ohio State’s Woody Hayes loses his composure and his job as coach, and “Superman”, with Christopher Reeve, mixes the best of adventure, special effects and satire.
Many heated discussions took place early that year whether Twins Day should be limited to a local affair or to a festival honoring Twins and others of multiple birth. It was decided by that informal group that the festival would continue and that the emphasis would be placed on Twins and others of multiple birth. The Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce received a call from a circus that had an open date and inquired if they (The Chamber) would be interested in hosting it. Well, within a week, over 500 tickets were sold and the TDFC had a profit of $425 to off-set some expenses. Twenty events were scheduled that year, ranging from a parade to a “battle of the barrel” between local fire departments. A doctor from Tulane University attended that year to take and study hand and footprints of twins. This was the start of the research on site. 76 sets attended that year, and we knew that we had a winner in hand.
1979 – While the surgeon general reports that smoking causes lung cancer, Khomeini, the predecessor to our problems, returns to Iran. The Three-Mile Island nuclear plant springs a leak, Margaret Thatcher becomes Europe’s first female Prime Minister, and the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.
Twins Day became an international event when one set of twins came from Lebanon and one set came from Poland. A $100 food raffle was the main fund raiser that year, with some commercial vendors and food booths on site. The entire budget for that fourth year totaled $2,200. This was quite a jump from the first year. The number of twins that attended that year totaled 136 sets. This was the year that the Twins Day Committee was incorporated in the state of Ohio as a nonprofit corporation.
1980 – Honda plans to build Japan’s first US passenger car assembly plant in Ohio, and Mount St. Helens spews out steam and ash and eventually blows its top. President Carter tells athletes that the US will skip the 1980 Olympics, Reagan and Bush are to run for the GOP and eventually win in November, and the New York Yankees sign Dave Winfield for $25 million.
Due to a conflict in scheduling which had occurred over the last few years, this was the first year that the festival was held the first weekend in August. (Unfortunately, the committee never expected that the Canton Football Hall of Fame would also move their ceremony date to the first weekend in August). A violent rain and lightning storm rolled over Twinsburg just prior to the parade. Though the rain came and went again and again that day, the twins and their families and friends stayed. They got a little wet, but enjoyed the wide variety of activities that were planned. 1980 saw the forerunner of the Twins Contests as we know them today. Hee Haw’s Hager twins were masters of ceremonies of the fifteen contests. Later that evening they performed a concert. This was also the first year that the governor of Ohio issued a proclamation designating the first weekend in August as “Twins Day” throughout the State. In 1980 we hosted 343 sets of twins.
1981 Ronald Reagan is sworn in as the 40th President of the United States as millions go on strike in Poland in support of Solidarity. Emannon Coghlan runs the indoor mile in three minutes and 50.6 seconds and the space shuttle Columbia, completes its first orbital flight. Pope John Paul is wounded by an assassin’s bullet while Israeli planes destroy an Iraqi nuclear reactor. Charles and Diana wed in royal splendor and AlDS is identified for the first time.
This year the festival’s growth forced the committee to hold the festival for two days instead of one in order to accommodate the additional activities. Two large tents were rented to house the Twins Contests and the long schedule of entertainment. A TV show, N.O.V.A, attended and filmed a great portion of the festival as part of a documentary. Each time the documentary was aired the committee received hundreds of calls for additional information about the festival. This year the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association awarded Twins Days with the Award of Merit in the Category of Outstanding Program for 1981. There were 20 contests held for twins in 1981. Lynn Trefzger, known as “Lynn and Friends” was a starring act at Twins Days. Now she is a professional. There were a total of 376 sets of twins registered this year.
1982 – John DeLorean’s stainless steel sports car end production this year after the British Government says “NO” to more money. Argentina invades the Falkland Islands, and The Pope (John Paul II) visits Britain for the first time since 1531. The demand for gasoline drops, resulting in Exxon closing 850 stations. Barney Clark receives the first artificial heart in a human, while Sly Stallone stars in the blockbuster “First Blood”.
Fireworks were added to this year’s program in response to overwhelming requests from our guests and twins. A special fireworks raffle was conducted to help Twins Days fund this, and the first Twins Talent Show was offered for the twins to compete in. The festival was showing the growth we now associate with Twins Days in many areas such as entertainment, the amount of spectators, the number of twins in attendance, along with the booths and other attractions. Some 20 contests in which the twins could compete, were held this year. Among the 569 sets of twins in attendance in 1982 was one set from France and one set from Argentina.
1983 – UCLA defeat Michigan 24-14 in the Rose Bowl, while New York rehires Billy Martin for the third time as manager of the Yankees. President Reagan proposes the Star Wars defense plan, while the US Embassy in Beirut is bombed. The Brooklyn Bridge celebrates its 100th birthday with a fireworks display, and 32-year old Sally Ride becomes the first woman in space. US troops storm the shores of the small Caribbean island Grenada to help restore democracy, and Poland’s Lech Walesa receives the Nobel Peace prize.
“That’s Incredible” attended and filmed our festival this year, and the Festival adapted a new format for our souvenir program; a booklet that can be collected, which is still in existence today. Twins registered from 30 states and 6 foreign countries, and Lisle and Percy Ward, professional entertainers from Barbados, were our special guests that year. Twins Days continued to grow in size and popularity. In 1983, 34 contests were held on Saturday and 4 on Sunday, and we hosted 729 sets of twins.
1984 – Kathryn Sullivan becomes the first US woman to walk in space, while the first debates between Reagan and Mondale take place. Foreign aid increases to Ethiopia’s starving, while Baby Fae dies after living 20 days with a baboon’s heart. Reagan and Bush win by 59% in 49 states, and a fatal gas leak is detected in Bhopal, India with tragic results. Four black youths are shot on the New York subway, while Walter Payton surpasses Jim Brown’s record of 12,317 rushing yards.
The Ward twins from Barbados, started a biannual Twins Days in their country with help from the Twins Days Committee. A film crew from Tokyo, Japan spent the entire weekend filming the festival for a 30-minute show titled “Document”. In order to raise money that year, a reverse raffle/dinner dance and a haunted park were sponsored by the committee. Plans for an amphitheater were unveiled with expectations that it would be completed and ready for the following year. 1984 saw 994 sets of twins register.
1985 – Reagan is sworn in on Jan 21 because the 20th is Super Bowl Sunday, and subzero temperatures prevail. Gorbachev is appointed the new leader to take charge of the Soviet Union, the youngest since Stalin, while Libby Riddles is the first woman to win the 1,135 mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race, finishg in 17 days. Drug testing is called for in pro baseball, and Rock Hudson, Yul Brynner and Orson Welles pass away.
Twins Days celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a balloon release and the completion and dedication of the amphitheater by Mayor Anthony Perici. The festival held 35 twins contests on Friday and five on Sunday. The Twins Days Festival Committee moved to its first “office” that year. The committee also held a Haunted Park and a dinner dance/raffle, and Mayor Perici presented a Twinsburg Flag and an American Flag to the Committee. Rapid City Band closed out the evening, and a collectors plate and commemorative t-shirt were offered at the festival. It was a fun time for all attendees and our attendance was at an all time high of 1,181 and still climbing.
1986 – The space shuttle Challenger explodes in a ball of fire shortly after takeoff on January 28, with all seven astronauts killed, while Shcharansky is freed after eight years in Soviet prisons and labor camps. Oil is selling at less than $15 per barrel, and hundreds of designer dresses, five shelves of unused Gucci handbags and 3,000 pairs of shoes are left behind by Imelda Marcos. Chernobyl’s accident releases deadly atom radiation and later proves to be the worst nuclear accident ever, while the US celebrates the refurbished Miss Liberty’s 100th birthday.
1986 dawned on a Twins Days whose registration only peaked at 1088 sets, a drop of 100 sets. Why? Well after questioning some twins, they told us that since the twins contests were held only on Saturday, why should they register, since they could only attend on Sunday. So, off to the drawing board for 1987. Thirty eight contests were held in 1986.
1987 – While a Wall Street stock market crisis spreads to Tokyo and London, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar passes Wilt Chamberlain’s points record. Colonel Oliver North testifies at the Iran-Contra Affair hearings, while filmmaker Brian DePalma, directs “The Untouchables”. More than 400 die in clashes between Iranian pilgrims and Saudi police at Mecca, and Australia celebrates its Bicentennial.
Twins Days contracted with a professional public relations firm to assist with the pre-event publicity. The budget this year was $60,000, a far cry from today. The National All-American Twins Pageant was held in Twinsburg this year, and Twins Days was listed in the in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Annual Gathering of Twins. The National Film Board of Canada filmed the Festival. There were 1,351 sets of twins attending this year.
1988 – Dennis Connor skippers a US catamaran to beat New Zealand in the America’s Cup race, and Nationalist uprisings break out in the Soviet republic of Armenia. Television evangelist Jim Bakker is convicted of fraud and conspiracy, while details of the US Stealth bomber are released for the first time. Dustin Hoffman stars in the Academy Award-winning film “Rain Man” and Jesse Jackson fails in his second attempt for nomination as president.
1,826 sets of twins were registered at Twins Days, and a panel discussion was also held this year for the enjoyment of those in attendance. A “Twindy Indy” race was sponsored by Little Tikes. This was also the year that Revco was our “Name in Title” sponsor, and the Twins Days Festival moved into larger offices. Much help from local businesses turned this dream into a reality.
1989 – The Ayatollah Khomeini dies in Iran, while Bush is inaugurated as the 41st US president, and Quayle becomes vice-president. Hundreds of demonstrators are killed by troops in Peking’s T’ien-an-Men Square, while Libyan leader Muammar al Qaddafi signs a peace treaty with Chad. Soviet forces complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan while the civil war continues, and US forces invade Panama.
Twins Days saw 2,356 sets of twins register this year, while still awaiting the 10,000th set of twins, Valerie and Annette Risenburg of Gibsonburg, Ohio, who were presented with a set of airline tickets and many souvenirs for this honor. A “Parenting Panel” was held at the high school, and the Twins Hall of Fame and property acquisition was first published. Northwestern University started a study of facial features for reconstructive surgery.
1990 – Boris Yeltsin becomes president of the Russian Republic, while East and West Germany are united. US-led coalition forces begin Operation Desert Shield to protect Saudi Arabia from Iraq, and Warren Beatty directs, produces and plays the lead role in the film “Dick Tracy”. Iraq invades Kuwait, beginning the Persian Gulf War, and Lech Walesa wins the first direct presidential election in Poland’s history.
Twins Days received the “Festival of the Year Award” from the Greater Ohio Showman’s Association. The committee received a phone call from the Soviet Union inviting us to Moscow to participate in their first Twins Day. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, with the chance to build international relations. A delegation of 12 embarked on a 13-hour flight to Moscow. We awarded medals and a proclamation making all winners Honorary Citizens of Twinsburg, Ohio. We visited Moscow’s McDonalds, the largest in the world.
Twins Days adopts a 5-phase building plan. We picked up our visiting Russian friends and headed back to their motel where they were met by a very large contingent from Twins Days, complete with flowers for each person. The Russians were given a standing ovation after they were introduced at the festival, and, needless to say, they were the main attraction this year. There were 2,510 sets of twins registered this year.
1991 – A US-led international force attacks Iraq for its refusal to withdraw from Kuwait. Mikhail Gorbachev gives up the presidency of the USSR, while Boris Yeltsin is elected president of the Russian Republic. Clarence Thomas replaces Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court, while leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus establish the Commonwealth of Independent States.
There were 2,781 sets of twins registered this year, the highest count to date, and the TDFC held their first golf tournament. Anne and Andrea Loomis, of Willowick, were the first recipients of the First Annual Twins Days Scholarship, and Dr. Nancy Segal received the First Annual Research Grant. The First National Bank kicked off the building fund by donating $5,000 and pledging $5,000 for 10 matching contributions of $500 each. Eight TDFC delegates visited Russia to attend their second Twins Competiti on and they, in turn, visited Twinsburg. This year’s parade and souvenir program were dedicated to those who served in the Persian Gulf.
1992 – Bill Clinton becomes the 43rd US president by defeating Bush and Perot, while Fidel Ramos becomes president of the Philippines. General Manual Noriega is convicted of cocaine trafficking and racketeering, and Johnny Carson retires from NBC’s Tonight Show. The Cosby Show ends its run, and, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in North America, NASA begins a search for extraterrestrial life. The 27th amendment is ratified, 203 years after James Madison writes it . And, finally, the Toronto Blue Jays become the first Canadian team to win baseball’s World Series.
While Twins Days celebrated the city’s 175th anniversary, the city was cosponsor of the fireworks. Twins Days registered 2,680 sets of twins this year. The first set of twins from Nigeria attended the festival, and every state of the union was represented for the first time in the midway by their state flag, while a speaker series was presented by M.O.M.’s magazine.
1993 – While civil war and ethnic strife continue to ravage the states that were once a part of Yugoslavia, hundreds die and millions lose their electricity in the blizzard of the century that strikes the east coast. Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” sets box office records in its opening week. Terrorists explode a bomb at New York’s World Trade Center.
2,645 sets of twins were registered this year and the budget for this year was $200,000. Our new souvenir catalog was introduced after many requests from the twins, and we also started the admission fee this year, with a portion set aside for the building fund. Twins Days also hosted the first, and only, double wedding of the Malms and Lassens.
1994 – This year starts with the normal arguments and bickering among nations, particularly the Slavic countries, which is still ongoing and as confusing as ever. The Israelis, the Palestinians and the Irish, all who have an axe to grind, are pulling others into their mess. 1994 brought us the baseball strike – the most inconsistent and agonizing situation pulled on the American public. Who won? Not the fans. As of this writing, there still hasn’t been a settlement.
The 1994 Twins Days saw 2,680 sets of twins register, a sit-down-and-eat-tent by the food wagon, wheelchair rentals and the debut of the TDA (Twins Days Association) for our twins and multiples. The festival also saw a set of twins who were able to attend Twins Days by means of a “Dream Trip” while appearing on the Jerry Springer show. This year also saw the start of the Reau Boys Fund, providing financial help for twins that may not otherwise be able to attend Twins Days.
What will 1995 bring? More of the same? Or different things? I feel we should hope for the best, for our family and for the things that mean so much to our way of life. Remember, there may be times when you will be sorry about something you said; sor ry that you stayed too late; sorry that you went too early; sorry that you won something or sorry that you lost something, but all your life, you’ll never be sorry that you were kind.
Copyright Andrew R. Miller, Spring 1995
A NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTERS: Yes, we are aware that this is an abrupt end and it would be cool to update it. A newer continuation of this document is “in the works” and hopefully it will be up by Spring of 2005. Fingers crossed!
- 1995: 2,798 sets registered
- 1996: 2,786 sets registered
- 1997: 2,698 sets registered
- 1998: 2,701 sets registered
- 1999: 2,707 sets registered
- 2000: 2,743 sets registered
- 2001: 2,460 sets registered
- 2002: 2,654 sets registered
- 2003: 2,756 sets registered
- 2004: 2,054 sets registered
- 2005: 1,908 sets registered
- 2006: 2,064 sets registered
- 2007: 2,034 sets registered
- 2008: 2,037 sets registered
- 2009: 1,902 sets registered
- 2010: 1,754 sets registered
- 2011: 1,736 sets registered
- 2012: 2,090 sets registered
- 2013: 2,000 sets registered
- 2014: 1,895 sets registered
- 2015: 2,053 sets registered
- 2016: 1,823 sets registered