In this high-tech era, offspring rarely find the toys of yore enticing. One exception: the yo-yo. A Philippine import, the yo-yo has been a kid pleaser since it came to the States in 1929. But don’t assume it’s quaint. “Yo-yo has an extreme twist and a subculture,” says F. Patrick Cuartero, the CEO of Yo-Yo Nation, an online shop and virtual yo-yo community. Modern yo-yos have evolved, Cuartero adds: “In terms of technology, there are long spinning ball bearings in them, they’re perfectly rim-weighted for optimal spin time, they’re made out of aircraft-grade aluminum or titanium. Old wooden or even plastic yo-yos might spin for seconds. Standard yo-yos today spin for minutes.” On August 9, Yo-Yo Nation will host the International Yo-Yo Open at South Street Seaport, where the best yo-yo players from about thirteen countries will compete. Families can marvel at their tricks—expect a lot more than the iconic Walking the Dog, Around the World, and Rock the Baby—then try to imitate them on test yo-yos at various vendor booths. Break-dancers, beat-boxers, and spin-top and diabolo performers add to the fun. “The whole point is to showcase the world’s talent,” says Cuartero, “but also to spread the yo-yo love—the joy, the passion—to everyone who doesn’t know about it.” Cuartero contends that fourth- and fifth-graders are at the ideal age for taking up the yo-yo, an observation he bases on his experience teaching two Tribeca after-school programs. It tends to hook the mathematically inclined but isn’t geeky. “People are comparing it to the rise of skateboarding,” Cuartero says. Except yo-yos are safer, and the handheld toy is perfect for storing in a space-challenged apartment.
8/9, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pier 17, Fulton St. at South St. (yoyoopen.com); free.