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From Twinsburg and beyond: Twins Days attracts nearly 2,000 sets

by Gina Mace | Reporter Published: August 11, 2016 2:31 PM
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Twinsburg -- They came two-by-two from Twinsburg and beyond to celebrate what makes them unique.

More than 1,800 sets of multiples descended on Glenn Chamberlin Park for the 2016 Twins Days Festival Aug. 5-7, the 41st since the first Double Take Parade stepped off in 1976.

Twins were treated to free Twincicles, the frozen treat especially delicious in 80-degree heat.

Researchers from colleges, including West Virginia and Pennsylvania State universities, and private companies, such as P & G Research and The Acne Treatment and Research Center, offered nominal pay or swag for twins willing to submit to a DNA swab, have a photo taken, or answer some questions.

Twins Days Festival Committee board member Sandy Miller said most researchers filled their quotas by 1 p.m. Aug. 6, the first day of the festival.

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"The rest were gone Sunday morning," she said.

A long line of people took turns having their pictures taken with the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship trophy, on loan for a few hours and carefully watched over by security.

And everywhere throughout the park there were twins, siblings of twins, parents of twins, and a few singletons there to gape at the twins.

Miller estimated 25,000 people came and went over the weekend.

Twins Baongoc Huynh and Baongan Huynh, 30, whose English names are Skyler and Skylar, were visiting for the first time.

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They are from Vietnam, currently living in Delaware while attending college. The women said they were enjoying interacting with other twins.

"Usually we meet one or two [in Vietnam]," Skyler said. "Here there are a whole lots of twins."

"We can discuss and share the differences between sets," Skylar added.

As if on cue, lawyers Brittany and Briana Deane, 30, stopped to talk to the Huynh sisters.

"You're from Delaware?" Briana asked. "We're from Delaware."

Briana and Brittany were featured in the May sisters issue of Vanity Fair magazine for their successful campaign to keep open their alma mater, Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Va.

The Huynhs and the Deanes are mirror twins, meaning they have reverse asymmetrical features such as one being left-handed while the other is right-handed.

Briana said she started out left-handed, but then began copying her sister until her right hand became dominant.

The Deane sisters invited their new friends to the traditional bowling party at the close of the festival, and they exchanged numbers so they could meet up again back in Delaware.

Some twins were regulars to the famous festival, like Elva Martin and Elsie Kreider, 77, who were attending their 22nd Twins Days.

They said they enjoy the Double Take Parade, which this year was packed with aliens, Star Wars and other science fiction style costumes in line with this year's theme, "Twinfinity and Beyond."

Most who make the pilgrimage every year do it for the same reason.

"We come back to meet a lot of twins we've known for 22 years," Martin said. "It's amazing how many twins you see who look alike, no matter how old they are."

Martin and Kreider, 77, from Lancaster, Pa., won a bronze medal in the Oldest Twins contest Aug. 7.

Contests, conduct throughout the weekend, are a popular part of the Twins Days celebration.

There are medals for most alike, least alike, youngest and oldest.

The best adult outfit matching this year's theme on Aug. 7 went to Scott and Jason Malafarina, of Solon, who created elaborate Buzz Lightyear costumes out of foam, duct tape and magnets.

Scott and Jason also emceed the contests, along with Dan Fazio. They kept the audience entertained while judges chose the winners in 52 categories and 12 age groups. The Malafarina brothers left the entertaining to Fazio for the first set of Sunday competitions, which included the contest they won.

Raymond and Damon Clyburn, of Louisville, Ky., were named the most alike adult twins by the judges, while Jeren and Jeron Bonner took the bronze.

This was the Bonners' second trip to the festival, having visited in 2014.

"A friend always talked about it, so we looked it up," Jeron said. "We really wanted to come last year."

Jeren said he appreciates that they aren't singled out as twins. It's the singles who are unique at Twins Days.

"It's more comfortable," he said. "You can relate to each other."

Also returning to Twins Days for their 23rd wedding anniversaries marriage, were twin brothers Doug and Phil Malm and their wives, twins Jill and Jana Malm, of Moscow, Idaho.

"We met here in 1991," Doug said. "We proposed in 1992 and got married in 1993."

Doug took an instant liking to Jill.

"He told me a day later he was going to marry her," Phil said.

Jill's sister, Jana, had a boyfriend, so Phil kept his distance.

Doug and Jill kept in touch, even taking a cruise together before the next Twins Days. Phil and Jana, having dumped the boyfriend, met their ship when it docked in Orlando, Fla., and that was the beginning of their relationship.

On their second trip back to the festival after their first meeting, the men proposed to their future wives on the contest stage.

They were married on that stage the following year.

"We try to come back every year," Doug said. "It's very comfortable. Like a family reunion."

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