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Frisbee Fans Frolic in Nation’s Capital

August 31, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Mix thousands of people, hundreds flying Frisbees, scores of dogs and one warm, sunny Sunday afternoon in the shadow of the Capitol and you have the 10th Annual National Frisbee Festival.

The disc-shaped symbol of the ’60s cooperative spirit is still with us and still going strong, according to Larry Schindel, director of the five-hour festival held on the Mall.

The Frisbee, the version of the familiar flying disc patented by the Wham-O Manufacturing Co., has avoided the fate of fads such as the hula hoop and pogo stick because it is a social, as opposed to solitary, experience, he said.

″The only way to play Frisbee is to play it with someone else. It’s a cooperative event,″ Schindel said. ″That’s why it’s still out in the beaches and the backyards.

″It requires only the skill level an individual wishes. ... And you’re not required to be hitting someone like in football.″

There is also an esthetic attraction, he said. ″It flies and hovers as opposed to a ball that just drops to the ground.″

Jack Gyben, manager of sports marketing for KRANSCO, parent company of Wham-O, had no figures on the number of Frisbees manufactured annually, but he said there are more Frisbees in American homes, than baseballs, footballs and basketballs combined.

For most, Frisbee tossing remains a light-hearted pastime, but for the elite few it is a highly skilled sport.

The festival featured demonstrations of events such as freestyle, a combination of juggling and gymnastics; ultimate, a team sport that mixes elements of soccer, basketball and football; K-9 Frisbee, the old game of fetch with a twist, as well as distance events and Frisbee golf.

The climax of the afternoon was ″The Big Throw.″ A crowd of 1,521 people simultaneously flung Frisbees into the air, breaking the record of 449 set at the national festival in 1981 and recorded in the Guiness Book of World Records, organizers said.

The festival was begun in 1977 as a promotion of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum and has been under corporate sponsorship since 1984. This year’s sponsors were Wham-O, Dannon Yogurt, a local radio station and an area hotel.