UnNews:Local woman wins annual Baby Toss

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9 October 2006

Flyingbaby

Marty Graham catches daughter, Lindsey, during a practice toss.

ERIE, Pennsylvania. -- Erie resident, Dorothy Graham, was the winner of this year's Baby Toss, with a toss - judged for both height and distance - that measured a record-breaking 14 feet high and 37 feet in distance. The baby, Lindsey Graham, landed safely in the arms of her father, Marty.

The Baby Toss, an annual charity event begun in 1995 to raise money for the Erie Public Library system. The event drew over 70 contestants this year, many from out-of-state.

Since its inception, the event, which is held at Riverside Park, has grown from a few hundred people to bring in nearly 25,000 visitors over a three-day period. In addition to the Baby Toss, there are now concession stands, carnival rides, and live bands.

In the ten years since it first began, baby tossing has evolved in technique, as well as intent. Competitors the first year used a simple two-handed forward throw, with the baby grasped by the ribs beneath the shoulders. But with the rules only specifying that muscle power be used as a propulsive force, this year's competitors utilized a variety of tossing methods, the favorite being a kind of "sling" that is spun in a manner similar to that of an Olympic hammer throw.

"The two biggest challenges are that babies are squishy, not solid, and they gain weight throughout the training period," noted Graham. "So you need to allow for inertial forces, and anticipate any significant weight gains prior to the competition."

Points are deducted from tosses where a complex mechanism is used, and if the baby fails to safely reach the catcher.

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