Asheville, NC is an oasis of sorts, a bright, fertile place that appears as if out of nowhere just beyond the nearest mountain. We’re known here for our colorful population, eccentric attitudes, and welcoming nature. Those attributes make Asheville the perfect place to raise a family, and our town is full of fun and unique activities for kids. The next time you’re thinking of something to do beyond the usual park trip, think hoops–hula hoops.
On Tuesday evenings from May through September, Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville comes alive with the sight of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of spinning hula hoops. From 5:30 to 7:30, hoop dancers with Asheville Hoops spin magic in the park with members of the community. George Pond provides the music, and there’s something for everyone, from techno to bluegrass. This is not an event just for the young or old-there are folks at Hoop Jam that have just learned to walk, some that are well into their sixth or seventh decade on Earth, and every age in between. Skill isn’t a requirement-the hoop dancers are amazing to watch, moving the hoops through the air as if they were suspended on some invisible string, but you’re more than welcome to join in with the old-fashioned hip swivel, or just sit back and watch the fun. Professional hoop dancers are on hand to offer guidance and tips for novice hoopers, and the evening often ends with a performance by famed Asheville hoop dancer Mel MacPink, who keeps the energy high with her infectious smile and spirited dancing.
There is a relaxed, comfortable vibe at Hoop Jam, with lots of little kids running around, dancing, and playing with hoops. Many kids like watching the other performers who show up at almost every jam, juggling and dancing for the crowd.
Hoop Jam is free and open to the public. Bring a water bottle, and snacks if your little ones might get hungry from all the dancing. Some hoops are available to borrow, and new hula hoops can be purchased under the tent where Pond has his DJ station. Parking is available on the street in metered spaces or at several garages nearby.