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Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Hoopin’

Hula hooping is major fun, in case you haven’t tried it lately. I’ve enjoyed it for years, and I’m good (no real tricks but I can keep the hoop going for ages). So imagine my delight when we made a spontaneous trip to the park today and there was a hoop group.
A groovy retiree named Walt brought dozens of hula hoops to our local park, just for fun. He goes to different parts of San Diego each week and brings hoops of all sizes for friends and strangers to use. This was the first time I’ve seen him at our small neighborhood park and I was charmed by the show. Perhaps he’s a self-appointed ambassador of peace: people connect when they’re doing something fun. Maybe we need to get politicians some hula hoops. And roller skates. Laugh a little and who knows what kind of progress could be made?
Anyway, Walt is the uncle of my friend, who lives across from the park. I’m not sure how long he’s been sharing his hoops but whatever his age is (I’m guessing 60-something), he’s young in body and in spirit. (I’d like to interview him! If I do, I will post the interview here. This man is the kind of free spirit I’m intrigued by, and I want to know more about him.)
When we arrived at the park, Walt was giving lessons to kids and grown-ups alike. He helped me learn something I’d tried to learn off of YouTube. Walt managed to climb over a picnic table (climbing onto the bench, up to the table, then down the other side) while maintaining a spinning hoop around his waist and two more hoops spinning in his hands. Amazing.
There were literally dozens of hula hoops scattered about, beckoning people to give hooping a try. I’d estimate there were at least 50 hoops, which is less than Walt used to have. He used to have 100! Some were small (intended for preschoolers), some were standard size (I’d guess three feet across), some larger still (these are easier to use, Walt says) and there was even a giant hoop (custom-made) that Walt says is seven feet in diameter. I wasn’t sure the seven-footer would be manageable but Walt said it wasn’t hard and so I gave it a try. I asked someone to take photos of me, since you know I love posting fun photos of unexpected moments. Sadly, my hula-hooping stance (butt out, kind of chicken like) is not my most flattering pose but I’m throwing vanity to the wind and sharing the photos of the hooping happiness that was spinning through the park.

Walt isn’t doing this as a business—it’s just his way of bringing fun to the community, getting some exercise and some fresh air and enjoying his retirement in his own way. It completely made my morning. These serendipitous moments are the best—unexpected gifts I stumble upon when I’m just doing my usual thing.

Here’s to Walt, and all the free spirits out there who find unusual ways to share their talents and enthusiasm with the world, just to bring happiness to others. Thanks, Walt. Keep on hoopin’…


  1. What a fantastic story!!!!! Encourages me to pick up my own hula hoop! I just love random positivity like that, which Walt brought to the park :-) HERE'S TO WALT!!!!

  2. Thanks! It reminds me of your impromptu guitar concerts while you are out camping--a gift to all those around you.