Three decades of celebrating twinship
Thirty years, and it doesn’t get old.
Or any less fun.
Area residents Susy Todd Eft and Sandy Todd Rollo, the identical twin daughters of Alvin and Nada Todd of Toronto, wouldn’t be anywhere else but Twinsburg, Ohio, come the first weekend of August.
And that held true again this year as well as the sisters participated yet again in the Twins Days Festival, the largest annual gathering of twins and other multiples in the world.
Twins Days always takes place on the first full weekend of August each year and is open to all multiples – identical, fraternal, young and old, twins, triplets, quads – and their families.
“It’s amazing to us that we had just as much fun the first year as we have for the last 30 years,” Sandy said fresh back from the event where this year’s theme was “Twice Upon A Time.”
And why is it that they have so much fun?
Susie ponders the question.
“I think it’s good friendships, being in what you call a twinship thing, and I just think twins are really happy people,” Susie said.
And they’ve never met a stranger there either, they both said in near unison.
The festival attracted more than 2,000 sets of twins, the oldest being 98-year-old twin sisters from the Pittsburgh area who have only been going to the event for the past five years.
“They’re a hoot,” Sandy said with an affirming laugh, flipping through pages of a book boasting photos from their festival participation through the years.
Back to what makes the festival something extra special, Susie said, “When you’re in a minority most of your life but with the majority there, it’s pretty sweet I have to say.”
While in everyday life, being in the company of your twin might be cause to be looked at, stared at and compared to, the sisters said all that dissipates in Twinsburg.
“We’re all with the same people – twins – so we share the same experiences,” Sandy said.
“We’ve experienced what other twins do, but didn’t know it until we went to the festival. There are twins out there who don’t like each other and never have dressed alike, and just don’t enjoy each other’s company. That’s just not us,” Susie said.
The Twins Days Festival celebrates twinship, something the local sisters appreciate more and more and don’t reserve as a once-a-year-only acknowledgement.
But it wasn’t always quite that way.
They dressed alike until they were 16, but then parted ways with the practice.
“For the next 14 years we both sort of went our separate ways,” Sandy said.
“What happened with us is I think we lost track of that in our 20s. We didn’t do things together,” Susie said.
The turning point was 1983, however, when the sisters attended their first Twins Days Festival, a 30th birthday present courtesy of their husbands, Tom Rollo and Rob Eft.
“When we went to Twinsburg for the first time, we decided to dress alike,” Susie said. “We realized that we really like dressing alike especially when we are together and figured out that when we are dressed the same, one doesn’t look better than the other, and we have always gone to the same hair salon,” Sandy said.
While their spouses weren’t so enamored by the festival that first year, the wives were, and the agreement was, if you want to make that your annual thing to do, fine and well.
The rest, as they say in twin talk, is “history history.”
So they schedule their schedules accordingly, the first full weekend of August reserved for the festival where they have participated in all of the contests, including talent, look alike, a Gemini range cook-off and costumes.
This year, out of 48 sets of twins participating in the costume competition, the two took first place, dressed as Cinderellas with their Prince Charmings in tow, aka Steve and Jeff, two twins with whom they have forged a friendship over the past 25 years.
“We have won a total of 15 medals in our 30 years of going to the event,” Susie said. “The medals were won for the most look-a-like contest or for our costumes worn in the parade held at 9 a.m. on the Saturday of the event.”
In 2002, they reigned as the queens of the festival, an honor they said they’ll cherish forever.
“There have been twins who go there and don’t like it and never go back, and others never miss,” Sandy said, noting they have encouraged with success other local twins to participate – the Graham twins in Darlene and Marlene and Brian and Scott Petras.
That it’s been 30 years now their tradition seems impossible.
“We can’t believe it either,” Sandy said.
They said they’ve been asked which year was the most memorable, but they’ve all been special in their own way.
“Every year has been something different, something fun, something special,” Sandy said, adding, “Attending the 30th event has been fun and exciting, as always for the past 30 years.”
While there has never been recognition from the Twins Days Committee for twins attending the most years, the two were saluted with special celebrations among the friends they have made there, including a dinner, a gift certificate and a song dedication.
“It is amazing to us that we never get tired of going to the festival,” Susie said. “We make our reservations the day we leave for the next year. Our families know not to schedule anything that weekend because the twins will not be there for it.”
In the pros and cons list of being a twin, the cons side comes up short.
“We love everything about being twins,” Sandy said. “We say that we have the best of both worlds – our twin life and our single life. Being a twin means that you always have a best friend, and they always have your back.”
Susie agreed. “There is nothing negative about being a twin – only maybe if my twin is somewhere exciting I would like to go with her, and I can’t. That’s just being jealous,” she said.
The sisters said positive feedback is the reaction they get from people about being twins.
“We always put a smile on people’s faces,” Sandy said. “They always comment on what we are wearing or want to take our picture. And people always say ‘God Bless you both.'”
If there’s one thing they said they’d like readers to know, it’s that “being a twin is the best, but just because we look alike doesn’t mean we’re not individuals.”
Being a twin is something to embrace, according to the twins, who explained that in addition to the Twins Days Festival, there also is an International Twins Association convention held in September in a different state every year.
They attended the convention when it was held in Cleveland and hope to have a presence at the 2014 event in Nashville.
(Kiaski can be contacted at email@example.com