nah-nah-nah-nah-NAH-nah-nah-nah STILTMAN!

"Larry Dobson, the Stiltman, will be at the Uniquely Whidbey Trade Fair and Home Show this weekend, Oct. 14 and 15. "

  • Wednesday, October 11, 2000 12:00pm
  • News

“With height comes responsibility.After transforming himself into a 11-foot tall dark figure with a glowing skull head or a caped wizard with a pointy hat that reaches into the second story, Larry Dobson says he has to be careful not to scare little kids.It’s like they have some primitive memory of giants, he said. Often small children refuse to look at him and simply pretend he’s not there. But for the most part, both children and adults love Dobson’s giant-sized alter-ego, the Stiltman. As a stilt-walker for hire, the Clinton resident has entertained people all over the region for years, appearing in everything from Seattle’s Torchlight parade to Whidbey’s Fourth of July parade at Maxwelton.Dobson says he fell in love with stiltwalking as a boy after his father built him his first pair. He later turned his hobby into a unique business, Tall Characters Unlimited, in the early 1970s after stilt-walking in a Seattle Fourth of July parade dressed as Uncle Sam.Today, Dobson has a half dozen or so flamboyant characters that he can transform into for any occasion. The costumes cover his five to eight-foot stilts, making him look up to 14 feet tall. There’s Doug Skull, Merlin the Wizard, the Bat Monster and Uncle Sam. There’s the Firebird with 16-foot opalescent wings and gregarious, tie-dyed Hi Jack. For more formal occasions, Dobson dresses as the colorful, top-hat-wearing Formal de High’d.I do everything from parties to parades to gala fund raisers and grand openings, he said.Yet there’s more to being the Stiltman than just walking tall in a costume. For Dobson, it’s a performance. He loves to dance on stilts or swirl his huge wings or cape, creating an image that is hard to ever forget. His specialty, he says, it getting the audience involved and dancing along with him.When he’s not in costume, there’s a scientific side to Dobson . He’s a successful inventor and is currently working on a computer chip-controlled furnace that can burn chicken litter cleanly. It’s funded by a grant from the University of Arkansas. He’s fascinated by physics and molecular shapes. In his backyard he built a amusement-park contraption with pipes in the shape of a simple molecule. When he pushes it in circles, anyone sitting in one of the attached swings gets an amazing ride through random space.Not surprising, Dobson has also invented a pair of stilts. The long aluminum legs swivel at the hips, which allows him to move more freely and saves his knees from injury. He even attached a cast of his legs to the stilts so he can fasten himself in comfortably.Sunday afternoon, Dobson walked in these stilts, which are complete with giant clown shoes, around his property as he trimmed trees. Height, he said, has it’s advantages.——–Dobson’s Clinton-based business is called Tall Characters Unlimited. He can be reached at (360) 579-1763 or by e-mail at dancer@stiltman.com. He also has a Web site, complete with colorful pictures of his many stilted characters, at www.stiltman.com. “

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