In excess of 125 feet of solid steel is set to go down the hatch – hopefully without a scratch! Free sword swallowing performances part of worldwide event
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (Feb. 16, 2011)– Nearly 20 sword swallowers will be “dropping swords” at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditoriums worldwide at 2:26 p.m. on February 26, in celebration of the Fifth Annual World Sword Swallower’s Day.
As part of the international event, George the Giant, Murrugun the Mystic, Mike Todd and several other performers will present a free sword swallowing show outside the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Hollywood Odditorium. The performance will start at 2:00 p.m., with the finale at 2:26 p.m. local time.
The art of sword swallowing began more than 4,000 years ago in India, and requires the practitioner to use mind-over-matter techniques to control the body and repress natural reflexes to insert solid steel blades from 15 to 25 inches down the esophagus and into the stomach. With the demise of the traveling circus sideshow over the past several decades, there are currently less than a few dozen full-time professional sword swallowers actively performing the deadly art around the world today.
World Sword Swallower’s Day was founded by the Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI) and is co-sponsored by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! locations around the world.
Why World Sword Swallower’s Day? “We sword swallowers risk our lives every time we swallow swords, but many people don’t believe it’s real, or they think the art has died out,” explains Dan Meyer, a sword swallower who has been featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
“We established World Sword Swallower’s Day to raise awareness of the medical contributions sword swallowers have made to the fields of medicine and science, to honor veteran performers, to raise funds for esophageal cancer research and the Injured Sword Swallower’s Relief Fund (with donations matched by Ripley’s), and to correct myths by putting on sword swallowing demonstrations for the public and media around the world.”
Why is Ripley co-sponsoring it? “Because it’s great entertainment,” said Tim O’Brien, VP of Communications for Ripley Entertainment Inc. “Sword swallowers and Ripley go way back to the very first Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, set up at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. There, three performers, two of whom were ladies, mesmerized the huge crowds. Ripley’s has been home to sword swallowers around the world ever since.”
“It’s a huge honor for us to carry on the great tradition of sword swallowers who have performed at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums over the years!” Meyer explains. “In light of this, SSAI is sending out an open invitation to all sword swallowers around the world to contact us and join us in swallowing swords at Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums and other locations on the 26th!”