Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Bubble blower pops into fame
Watch Arielle Rosmarino blow bubbles. (video by Josh Meltzer, The Roanoke Times. Requires Real player)
Arielle Rosmarino will compete against five other children to see who can blow the largest bubble on the "Today" show. The winner will receive a $10,000 savings bond.
The pink bubble climbs over Arielle Rosmarino's lip, past her nose, over her eyes. It's bigger than her head now, now bigger than a kickball, still expanding. Then --
With little fanfare it deflates into a sticky film covering her face.
"Gotta love blowing bubbles," the 12-year-old jokes as she picks it off her face and lumps the gum back together.
Arielle isn't your average playground gum chewer. On Saturday this local jaw-snapping champion will be on NBC's "Today" show in New York competing against five other children. Whoever blows the biggest bubble gets a $10,000 savings bond and $5,000 donated to the local Children's Miracle Network. Just for competing they each get a $5,000 savings bond and $1,000 donated to the charity.
Arielle, who lives just outside Salem and will be an eighth-grader at Glenvar Middle School in Roanoke County, claims she doesn't have a highly developed strategy, but she still bubbles over with tips on how to turn a wad of gum into a delicate sphere bigger than her head.
It's important to chew the flavor and sugar out of it, she said. And forget using specially flavored gum; only original will do. To prep the gum, Arielle usually spends half an hour chewing three pieces of Dubble Bubble - the brand that's sponsoring the contest - to reduce it to the elastic gum base that inflates like a balloon.
See a graphic showing Arielle's bubble tips
"Once the taste is gone, you're ready to blow," she said.
Then, she folds it over in her mouth like a taco to get a thick, flat piece. She sticks her tongue through and blows. And blows. And blows. And blows.
Not all bubbles end up big, but she can consistently blow a 15-inch to 17-inch bubble, said her mother, Tabitha Cain.
"You can't even see her face. It's comical," Cain said.
Her mother said her record is a bubble with a 21-inch diameter. According to Shannon Cooke, product manager for Dubble Bubble, the world record is 22 inches.
Arielle's talent first surfaced when she happened to compete at a Wal-Mart bubble blowing competition in Winchester, where she used to live. She beat everyone else who competed at the store, but her glory ended there. When Wal-Mart hosted the Dubble Bubble competition again this June her mother took her to three stores in Roanoke and Salem. An 18-inch bubble qualified her for the finals.
Arielle, a good student whose extra-curriculars include wrestling and theater and who hopes to join the Army, seems to be an unlikely candidate for the contest. Her mom said she discouraged gum chewing and used to only allow sugar-free. Arielle, who loves to talk, jokes that she's good at it because she's "full of hot air."
David Johnson, who taught Arielle's seventh-grade civics and economics class, said gum is normally prohibited in school, but he let the rule slide a bit with Arielle at the end of the year.
"When things were a little looser she demonstrated her bubble gum blowing prowess," he said.
If Arielle wins, she'll become a representative for Dubble Bubble for a year and may appear on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
"I never in a million years would have guessed that by blowing a bubble she would have so much opportunity," her mother said.
When it's all over, Arielle said she'll still have a taste for bubble gum.
"You can't get sick of gum."