More than 25 sword swallowers will be performing shows at more than a dozen Ripley Believe It or Not! Odditoriums worldwide in four countries at 2:27 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27, in celebration of the Fourth Annual World Sword Swallowers Day.
More than 100 feet of solid steel is set to go down the hatch – hopefully without a scratch.
World Sword Swallowers 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. “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.”
SSAI sword swallowers will be performing at more than a dozen Believe It or Not! Odditoriums including Orlando and St. Augustine.
Guests in Orlando will see Captain Olav swallow a sword that is actually shot down his throat by a rifle. He’ll also swallow a sword as he rides on his girlfriend’s shoulders – as she walks on broken glass.
Highlights at other Believe It or Not! locations will include:
• Red Stewart will attempt to swallow a world record 52 swords at one time in Atlantic City.
• Dai Andrews will attempt to swallow a very dangerous 120-degree curved Sword at Ocean City.
• Dan Meyer will swallow hedge clippers and a giant straight razor in Grand Prairie, Texas.
• Erik Kloeker, the youngest professional sword swallower in the world will perform in Gatlinburg.
• Travis Fessler will swallow a sword with his mouth full of live cockroaches in Gatlinburg.
• George The Giant, the world’s tallest sword swallower, will attempt to swallow a giant 33-inch long sword in Hollywood.
• A bevy of swallowers, led by legendary Todd Robbins, will perform at New York City’s Ripley’s.
“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 27th!”
Sword Swallowing Facts:
• The average person swallows about 600 times per day – 350 while awake, 200 while eating, and about 50 times while asleep.
• The average swallow uses 50 pairs of muscles and can take from three to 23 seconds to complete.
• Sword swallowers use mind-over-matter techniques to repress the natural gag reflex in the back of the mouth, the peristalsis reflex in the throat, and the retch reflex in the stomach to “swallow” solid steel sword blades from 15 to 30 inches in length.
• Sword swallowing can take from two to seven years to learn, and even after years of practice, some people never learn to master it.
• The longest sword swallowed on record was 33 inches long swallowed by George the Giant.
• The most swords swallowed at once was 47 swords swallowed by Red Stuart in 2008.
• SSAI reports that there are on average between four and six serious sword swallowing related injuries reported around the world each year that require medical attention and hospitalization, with dozens more that go unreported each year.
• Treatment of sword swallowing injuries can cost from $25,000-$75,000 per injury.
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.