At age 16, Michael Brookhart is called the “Pogo Stick Kid.”
Get in his way, and he's likely to bounce right over you. He can pogo up steps or down a railing. He's been known to bounce across the sides of buildings and has even been filmed chasing trains on his pogo.
It gets crazier.
Today, he and his brother, Anthony, both of Wapakoneta, are heading east for the Super Bowl of pogo. Yes, folks, there is such an animal. It's called the Extreme Pogo World Championship Series, or Pogopalooza (try saying that quickly five times in a row).
This is the X Games of the pogo world, one that will see Xpogo athletes from all over the world hopping around Pittsburgh from Tuesday through Thursday.
You bet. It is “pretty intense stuff, physically,” Michael Brookhart will tell you.
If you don't believe that, check out LimaOhio.com and watch the video Michael submitted in order to qualify for Pogopalooza. It's like viewing Olympic snowboarding competition or watching the kicks and spins of BMX riding – only Michael does his stunts on a human-powered stick instead of having a board strapped to his feet or a bike between his legs.
The “Pogo Stick Kid” got his start after a trip to the Lima Mall while he was in the seventh grade.
“My grandmother [Helen Schramm] saw me looking at a pogo stick and told me she would buy me one if I wanted.”
At that time pogo sticks were making another one of its nostalgic comebacks. The sticks first became the rage after being patented in 1919 by George Hansburg and landing on the shelves of Gimble Brothers Department Store in New York. They remained incredibly popular in the 1920s, when those who were unable to dance the jitterbug turned to the stick for salvation. They returned to popularity in the 1950s and '60s along with Hula-Hoops and the Slinky and then again in the 1970s.
“I just thought it looked kind of fun and different, so I took grandma up on her offer,” Michael said.
Then as children do nowadays, he looked up pogo on the Internet. He found himself mesmerized at the stunts people were doing and the variety of pogo sticks available. Today, Michael owns 15 to 20 pogo sticks.
“I have three different types I like, and then four or five each of those. They break a lot,” he said.
Michael buys the sticks off websites or eBay. Many of today's sticks use air pressure instead of the spring sticks of old that easily splintered.
“I love the the traditional spring on a metal piston pogo stick, but they're the hardest to find. Once in a while I'll get lucky and find one in a garage sale.”
Michael, who is the son of Beth and Randy Brookhart, will be among 30 to 50 people competing in the three-day event. Some are coming from as far as Russia, Germany and Mexico, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A competition is also being held in France and Sweden this year.
The soon-to-be junior at Wapakoneta High School will compete in the “Open” competition, where Xpogo athletes show off their tricks and stunts. He'll also be in the “least bounces” games. “That's where you try to jump as high as you can, with the winner being the person with the least jumps in a minute,” Michael said, noting it is not unusual for jumpers to clear heights of 9 feet. The world record for the highest jump ever, according to Guinness, is 9 feet, 7.5 inches.
Fittingly, Pogopalooza will be the high point of the Pogo Stick Kid's summer. Which, by the way, how did he ever get that name?
“People in town who don't know me, they just call me 'that Pogo Stick Kid.'”
A fitting moniker indeed.
ROSES AND THORNS: There's some fiddling around going on in the rose garden.
Rose: To Rudy and Ann Schneidhorst, who donated 54 violins and art books worth $32,000 to Lima City Schools.
Rose: To Ida Kay Keller, who chaired another successful Summerfest in Spencerville.
Rose: To Austin Goodridge and Phil Trueblood, who played Sunday in the championship round of the Lima Men's City Golf Tournament.
Thorn: To Ken Maag, 64, of Ottawa, who was arrested when police said he tried to solicit a prostitute in Lima. It was the second time in four years he's faced the charge, the first coming when he was the mayor of Ottawa, a position he soon resigned.
Thorn: Now that the county Road 5 project is all done, the 3rd Ohio District Court of Appeals ruled that Putnam County commissioners did not have the right to take property through eminent domain and they were guilty of numerous violations of the state's sunshine laws. The county faces $500 per sunshine law violation and there are nearly 100 violations.
Thorn: Larry Bumphus, an inmate at Allen Correctional Institution, died two weeks after being involved in a fight at the prison, and no one from ACI or the state patrol bothered to inform the media. Only when a family member called did the investigation become public.
PARTING SHOT: “I'm not worried about debt. It's big enough to take care of itself.” — Ronald Reagan.
2014 entry for the PogoPalooza trip contest. Thanks for doing this again Taylor, really cool bro. Second Times a charm I guess. My elbow hurts :/