Trans-Atlantic Tug-of-War Pulls Large Crowds in Midtown and Tel Aviv

Posted on 08. Dec, 2009 by in Uncategorized

by Shane Dixon Kavanaugh

DSCN0869How, Sharon Shullman and her family wanted to know, is it possible to have a trans-Atlantic tug-of-war between competing teams in Times Square and the port of Tel Aviv in Israel.

That’s the same question Burt Kirschner, 77, of Silver Springs, Md., asked as he and his wife stood in front of two giant video screens on a recent afternoon.

“So there’s a rope that runs from here, across the Atlantic and through the Western and Eastern Mediterranean?” asked Kirschner.

Well, not exactly.

A software program measured the pull of two ropes used by contestants, one in Times Square and the other in Tel Aviv. In turn, the software simulated the resistance for each team.

The tug-of-war was part of a bigger event that celebrated Tel Aviv’s centennial in New York, too. Competitors watched their Israeli rivals on large, high-definition screens with live broadcasts of the contests.

Shullman, in the city from West Hempstead with her husband and two kids for a Broadway matinee, was floored. “I have no idea what’s going on,” she said.

But that didn’t stop her and her family from signing up for the tug-of-war. Kirschner and his wife, Nora, 75, got in line and grabbed some rope, and so did others. Others stood alongside and stared at the crowd assembled halfway round the world. And the people in Israel stared back.

Stacy Saxon, whose firm provided the huge HD screens for the event, said the technology created a greater sense of immediacy and intimacy.

“At the end of the day we’re connecting cultures and transcending distance,” said Saxon.

The competitors weren’t all that interested in shrinking the gaps in distance and culture. They just wanted to win.

Kirschner, his wife, and two young men with muscles rippling through their tight shirts lost to a team of four Israeli children. The retiree tried to be philosophical. “Well, the kids are in better shape than we are,” he said. “I told the other guy on our team that if he worked out more we might have won.”

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