Scores of tigers, elephants, monkeys, tropical birds and even dinosaurs invaded Twinsburg on Saturday. With them were dozens of explorers and safari guides to keep them in check. Sort of.
Most of them came two by two, and there was even an ark ready.
Many of those attending this year's Twins Days Festival embraced the theme "Welcome 2 the Jungle" for the Double Take Parade and the day's activities.
The 47th annual international event, which runs through Sunday, takes place in various parts of Twinsburg, although most activities are at or near Glen Chamberlin Park at 10260 Ravenna Road. In addition to the parade, highlights include contests, a talent show, the royal court, a section for researchers, rides, games, fireworks and more.
The Double Take Parade, which started at the Twinsburg Township Square at 9 a.m., marched down state Route 14 past R.B. Chamberlin Middle School to Whitewood Parkway.
Twin sisters Becky Lolli of Lakewood and Kathleen Anguilano of Strongsville, who donned giraffe-themed garb to watch the parade and for the events later, said they've attended the parade for decades.
"We came for at least 30 years," said Lolli. "Forty years, maybe. But this is our first time since 2016."
Lolli and Anguilano said they stopped attending for several years after Lolli's grandson Andrew, himself a twin, died unexpectedly two weeks after his 19th birthday.
"We are looking for a twinless twin group for younger twins," for Andrew's sister Abby, Lolli said. "They were so close."
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Twins Days is known for its variety of fun activities and contests, but the festival does dedicate time to honoring twins and multiples who have lost a sibling with its Twinless Twins Remembrance Lantern Launch, which was Saturday evening.
Alicia Wolf of Twinsburg said she and her family have been attending Twins Days ever since her twin daughters, Beckett and Jolene, now 7, were 3 months old. Older brothers Miles, 13, and Jax, 10, also came.
"You get candy," said Beckett of one of her favorite parts of Twins Days.
"And the fair food," Wolf said. "We love all the fair food. And seeing all of the twins."
Twins Days Festival provides economic boost to the area
Last year, more than 1,600 registered twins and multiples attended the annual festival, which is recorded as being the largest annual gathering of twins in the world by Guinness World Records. It started in 1976 as a single-day festival as part of the city's participation in the national bicentennial celebration. The festival, which now runs over a weekend, has an estimated annual attendance of 20,000 to 30,000.
The festival attracts guests both nationally and internationally. According to information at the parade, there were twins and multiples who can from New York, Florida, Hawaii, Arizona and Kentucky, as well as Iceland and Australia.
The city itself was founded by identical twin brothers Aaron and Moses Wilcox, for whom Twinsburg is named.
"Tens of thousands of visitors will throng the city for the annual festival," said Mayor Sam Scaffide. "The festival is an important event for the Twinsburg community."
Scaffide said an economic impact study conducted by Kent State University stated the event provides "a substantive positive economic impact" to Twinsburg and nearby communities.
"With attendance of between 20,000 and 30,000, the study estimates that visitors spend $1.5 million at the event, and contribute more than $3.8 million to the local economy," Scaffide said. "The event is also important to local community groups who receive a percentage of revenue for providing manpower for concessions, parking, admittance and driving shuttle carts."
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Events at Twins Days continue Sunday
The annual 5K Fun Run and Walk, which starts at Dodge Intermediate School at 8:30 a.m., "Twingo" Bingo, and the Volleyball tournament are some of the events scheduled for Sunday. The festival ends at 7 p.m.
8:30 a.m. — 5K Fun Run & Walk benefiting Empower Sports, Dodge Intermediate School
9 a.m. - 6 p.m. — Twins registration and check-in
9:30 a.m. — Interdenominational church service, Stage I on midway
11 a.m. - 7 p.m. — Amusement rides and games
11 a.m. — Bingo cards go on sale for “Twingo” Fun Bingo (Session 1, children)
11:30 a.m. — “Twingo” Fun Bingo (Session 1, children 5-17), Stage I on midway
Noon — Twins volleyball tournament, sand court on midwayTwins contests, Perici AmphitheaterBingo cards go on sale for “Twingo” Fun Bingo (Session 2)
12:30 p.m. — “Twingo” Fun Bingo (Session 2, adults 18+), Stage I on midway
1:30 p.m. — Bingo cards go on sale for “Twingo” Fun Bingo (Session 3)
2 p.m. — “Twingo” Fun Bingo (Session 3, adults 18+), Stage I on midway
2:45 p.m. — Twins group photo break (photo snapped at 3:30 p.m.).
3:30 p.m. — Entertainment, Stage I on midway
7 p.m. — Festival closes
TWINS DAYS FESTIVAL
Where: Glen Chamberlin Park, 10260 Ravenna Road, and nearby areas
When: Through 7 p.m. Sunday
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Twins Days roars to life with theme 'Welcome 2 the Jungle'