Historic City News reporters will be on hand tomorrow as nearly 20 sword swallowers will be “dropping swords” at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditoriums around the world in celebration of the Fifth Annual World Sword Swallower’s Day.
As part of the international event, at 1:30 p.m., Atlanta’s Chris Steele will headline a free sword swallowing show with the finale at 2:26 p.m. You can observe the performance at 19 San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine; outside Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
World Sword Swallower’s Day was founded by the Sword Swallowers Association International and is co-sponsored by Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Tim O’Brien, VP of Communications for Ripley Entertainment Inc., said, “Sword swallowers and Ripley go way back to 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.”
Sword swallower Dan Meyer told Historic City News, “We established World Sword Swallower’s Day to raise awareness of the 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 and to correct myths by putting on sword swallowing demonstrations for the public and media around the world.”
Meyer said, “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.”
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.
Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News contributed photograph by Ripley Entertainment Inc.