Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Silly Bandz stretch some principals' patience

Megan Michaels likes the different colors and shapes of her Silly Bandz. The second-grader at Mary Bryant Elementary first found out about the rubber band bracelets when another student brought them to class a few months ago. Soon, Megan was donning them on her left arm — up to 70 at a time. But she can't wear them to school anymore. "Kids in my class traded them while the teacher was teaching," she said.

Similar distractions occurred in other classrooms, prompting principal Karen Bass to ban the colorful rubber bands at the Westchase school.

"I think they are cute but I think they are a bit of a disruption here," Bass said. She alerted parents in a March e-mail. "It is necessary to ask that these accessories be saved for play at home."

The move was a nod to the popularity of the latest fad playing out in schools, playgrounds, homes and businesses throughout the country.

Not so long ago, Pokémon cards, Webkinz, Pogs or slap bracelets were the thing. Now, it's Silly Bandz.

The rubber bands are being auctioned on eBay and have their own Facebook page, boasting more than 133,500 fans this week.

They were the subject of a New York Times article last month. Although kids generally call them "silly bands," there are several manufacturers who market them under names including Silly Bandz, Zanybandz and Crazy Bands, according to that article.

The thin, rubber band-style bracelets (think Livestrong) form any number of colors and shapes, such as animals, sports and even musical instruments. They look like a rubber band when worn but revert to their stamped shape when removed from a wrist. A pack can cost anywhere from about $2.99 to $10.99 or so, with a typical pack of 24 selling for $5.

Like Bass in Westchase, Pamela Bush, principal at FishHawk Creek Elementary in Lithia, does not want to see the bands on campus.

"We really don't promote them trading them during the school day," she said.

Still, some school administrators have a tolerance for the toys.

Rumor recently had it that the bands were banned for Rangers at Deer Park Elementary, but principal Lou Cerreta says not so.

"Different years you have different fads come through," Cerreta said. "As long as it's not a distraction to the learning environment, I think it's fine."

Schools in Pasco and Pinellas counties have not had any outright bans, at least according to district officials.

Businesses like Learning Express are embracing the fad. The toy store has outlets in Westchase, Brandon and South Tampa.

Sheryl Nicholson is a toy expert at the Westchase store, which stays stocked with nearly 4,000 bands.

"I love it. I think it is a great tool for kids," Nicholson said, adding that the bracelets improve negotiating skills.

More than 130 kids showed up at a trading day at the store recently, she said. The event was so popular owners will host another one Saturday.

Nicholson said the store noticed a dip in sales after nearby Bryant put the ban in effect.

"I am so saddened that some schools have decided to ban them," Nicholson said. "There are still some creative teachers who actually see the benefits and see the rewards and use them as a tool. Some teachers see them as too distracting."

Julie Mizouni, who owns the Learning Express in South Tampa, said she gets about 500 in each week. She has trouble keeping up with the demand.

"It's one of those hot items. It's a good price point. I think that makes it even stronger," Mizouni said. "The kids, they love it. They can't wait to go to school the next day to do some serious trading with their friends."

Megan's mother, Nicole Michaels, remembers when her children first found out about the bands. Megan started trading them with her brother, 10-year-old Ryan.

"After that it took off like crazy. They would wear them and trade them," Michaels said. "I don't really get it."

Megan now has more than 70 bands; Ryan recently said he had 176.

A few weeks ago in a swap with Ryan, Megan got a band shaped like a train — now her favorite band of all.

He wants to trade back, but Megan has different ideas.

"It's cool and if you turn it around it looks like a dog," she said. "I think it's going to be mine now."

Jared Leone can be reached at (813) 226-3435 or [email protected]

Fast facts

If you go

What: Bandz trading day

Where: Learning Express, 12950 Race Track Road, Suite 109, Westchase

When: 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday

Call: (813) 818-8697

Silly Bandz stretch some principals' patience 05/06/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 4:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.