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FOR THE RECORD, LET'S DO THE TWIST

Some do it quick, with a clap at the end. Others do it down low, swiveling their hips nice and easy.

Either way, at 7:30 p.m. sharp Sunday, it'll be "Come on, baby! Let's do the twist.''

During the Fourth of July celebration at Largo Central Park, the community is invited to join forces to break the world record for the largest number of people twisting in one place. Largo hopes to break the record of 1,691, which was set in England in 2004.

Typically, the Fourth of July celebration at Largo Central Park draws more than 20,000 people, so event organizers believe breaking the record is within reach.

"Last year, you could barely find a place to sit in the grass, it was so crowded. There's no doubt we can do this,'' said Rob Mondora, the city of Largo's artistic supervisor who helped with the event's concept.

Why the twist? Why now? Why here?

Because the twist and the city of Largo have something in common. The city's Recreation, Parks & Arts department is turning 50 this year. And it was 50 years ago, in July of 1960, when Chubby Checker released his version of Hank Ballard's song The Twist.

But there's still more to the story.

"The twist itself actually started in the Tampa Bay area,'' said Jack Harris, the voice behind the morning show on WFLA-AM.

"I learned about the twist starting in Tampa a few years back when a friend showed me liner notes from one of Ballard's albums,'' said Harris, who will be the emcee for the event.

The story goes that Ballard was visiting the Central Avenue district of Tampa around 1957. At the time, the area near where I-4 is now was the hub of the African-American community.

"Ballard was in Tampa, and he watched some kids dancing outside of a club. He asked them what they were doing, and they said they were doing the twist. He watched them awhile, and then went inside and started writing the song,'' Harris said.

There's also another local tie-in to the celebration.

"We've got Joey Dee living here,'' Mondora said.

Dee, who followed up Checker's hit with his 1961 song, Peppermint Twist, lives in Clearwater. Joey Dee and the Starliters are the headliners for this year's Fourth of July program.

"Even though it'll be about 100 degrees, we are looking forward to taking the stage in Largo,'' Dee said. '

When the official timekeeper gives the nod, Harris, along with Dee and his band, will start the crowd twisting. The dance must be performed for five minutes, nonstop.

Charla Lucas, events coordinator for the city, has been communicating with the Guinness Book of World Records to ensure the attempt will be valid.

Harris, who has been on Tampa Bay airwaves for 40 years, is eager to see the record set.

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IF YOU GO

Rock 'n' roll all night

The city of Largo's Fourth of July Celebration starts at 6 p.m. Sunday at Largo Central Park. The event will feature an attempt to set a world record for the most people doing the twist in a designated area. The current record is 1,691, set in England in 2004.

7:30 p.m.: World Record Twist Attempt with music by Joey Dee and the Starliters .

8:15 p.m.: High Velocity Entertainment.

9 p.m.: Fireworks show

Other details

Cost: $3 to participate in the attempt to break the record, but the Fourth of July celebration is free.

Parking: Limited on-site parking is available for $5. Parking also will be available at Largo Middle School and Largo High School.

For more information: Visit largoevents.com.

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