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Giant Pick Up Sticks

by Bernie DeKoven     

 

 

Of all the games I designed for the Philadelphia Bicentennial celebration (now more than 25 years ago), the most successful by far was Giant Pick-up Sticks. And, the most surprising part of the success for me was the discovery that playing the game wasn't as much fun as getting it started.
© Phil Goulding

 

We made the pick-up sticks out of the cardboard tubes that are found on the inside of carpet rolls. We found 30 sixteen-foot long tubes and painted them according to classic pick-up sticks colors: one black, seven red, blue and yellow, and eight green.

According to the actual rules, each color has a different point value: red 10, blue 5, green 2 and yellow 1. The black stick, worth 25 points, can be used to pick up other sticks. At least according to the actual rules. We never actually got that far.

 

To start the game, at least with regulation-sized pick-up sticks, one player holds all the sticks vertically in one hand, and releases them so that they form a pile. However, to start Giant Pick-Up Sticks, you need people to grab as many tubes as possible, stand the tubes up in a big cluster, and then, at a signal, run away as fast as possible so no one gets clonked by a falling tube.

 

This creates a completely hilarious scene that is visible for blocks (we had it at one end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and it could be seen down the whole stretch, all the way from the art museum). Sure, we could have continued our meaningful involvement by playing the actual game. Lifting up a sixteen-foot stick without disturbing any of the others was certainly a daunting enough challenge for even the most competitive minded. But the fact was, people just wanted to get those sticks together and then run away, over and over. And, given 250,000 potential players, we never needed to go beyond that.

 

   

 

 Bernie De Koven

 Guru of Glee

 Bernie has designed award-winning games for Ideal Toy Company, Children's Television Workshop, CBS Software and Mattel Toys.

 

He earned his Master's degree in theater from Villanova University

where he received a Rockefeller Fellowship in playwriting.

Bernie is a lifetime member of  The Association for the Study of Play

and a professional member of the Association for Humanistic Psychology       

Bernies Website : www.deepfun.com

 

Reprinted by permission

 

This Art image, above, though a good depiction of what a 

set of Giant Pick-Up Sticks looks like,is actually of a work of art

by Phil Goulding :  www.goulding-sculpture.com

 

 

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© - Bernie De Koven  2002 All World Wide Right Reserved

 

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