More than 600 Cartwheeling Kids take over Düsseldorf in 76th Annual Tournament
In Düsseldorf, cartwheels for kids aren’t just fun and games, they’re serious business: Kids do them for money on the street all year, and once a year compete for the title of cartwheel champion. Cartwheels are also stuff of Düsseldorf legend, and the city’s history, cityscape – and souvenir shops – are full of them. Düsseldorf, Germany –
The city of Düsseldorf has been in love with cartwheels since 1288, legend has it. Now part of the cityscape, every visitor will come across the image of a cartwheel sooner or later, or even have children offer to perform them for money (a nickel or a dime a piece), as they do to passersby on the street all year long. The city founded an annual cartwheel championship in 1937, and now more than 600 boys and girls from up to 15 countries compete every year.
The next event will take place June 24, 2012. As an expression of joy, doing cartwheels these days certainly makes sense, as Düsseldorf ranks #5 on a list of global cities in terms of quality of life (Mercer Consulting Survey 2011). But there is more to the city’s love affair, and there are several legends about how the tradition started. One says it happened in 1288, when Düsseldorf was granted town charter after a fierce battle and children ran into the streets doing cartwheels to celebrate.
Another legend talks about a boy who jumped and held the wheel of Prince Jan Willem’s carriage for safety after it broke in an accident, turning him into a living wheel. The city is also filled with references to and statues of cartwheelers, the most famous being Cartwheel Fountain in the city’s historic Old town. Even manhole covers and the doorknob at the famous Lambertus Church feature cartwheels, and they are one of the most popular Düsseldorf souvenirs.
Teams of boys and girls in the age groups 8-10 and 11-12 from schools in several countries compete in the championship. The children race each other doing cartwheels over a distance of 50 – 65 feet. It takes place outdoors at Düsseldorf’s Carl Square in the district Carlstadt. More than 600 children are expected to participate in 2012. For more information on the Cartwheel Championship, please visit www.visitduesseldorf.de.