COLUMBIA — As professional yo-yo demonstrator Jack Ringca started showing off his tricks, the only audible sound was the whoosh of the toy flying by.
"Are you ready to see things get real?" he asked the audience, as he unveiled his next trick, which was with a yo-yo not connected to the string. "That's pretty crazy, right?"
Ringca, the 2005 U.S. National 5A yo-yo champion, and four other Duncan yo-yo demonstrators came to Columbia on Tuesday night as part of the Duncan Heritage Tour, which is currently making its way around the country giving yo-yo demonstrations and hosting local yo-yo competitions.
At the event, the demonstrators gave a brief history of the yo-yo — the first known yo-yo dates back to 65 B.C. in Greece — and explained the five different categories in yo-yo competitions. Then, Ringca and fellow demonstrator Drew Tetz, 23, dove right into the tricks.
They performed the basic tricks before throwing in a few more difficult tricks for the audience, including a fan favorite that made the yo-yo strings look like Darth Vader.
"I thought it was pretty awesome," said 7-year-old Chase Dyer, who owns more than 20 yo-yos of his own. "I want to be a yo-yo champion, too."
Violet Davis, 85, asked her daughter to bring her to the demonstration. She sat in the front row the entire time.
"I really liked the one he sent up there," she said, as she pointed to the ceiling. "It was really something. I've never seen anything like this before."
Even Diana Guillen, 11, was turned into a fan. Guillen said she just started to learn how to use a yo-yo at the event, but after seeing Tetz make an Eiffel Tower shape out of the strings, all she had to say was, "Yo-yo rocks."
The demonstrators seemed to have a similar opinion.
"People say they're living the dream, but they're not playing with toys for a living," Ringca said. "And at what other job do you get to spend 24 hours a day with your closest friends, and travel and do what drives you?"
Tetz agreed. Though he has a degree in graphic design, he said he hopes to keep touring for now.
He said he was offered an internship for this year, "but it didn't look as cool as touring around the country and playing with toys."
Ringca, a classically trained musician who has been a demonstrator with Duncan for 11 years, said he kept yo-yoing for so long because of coworkers, like Tetz, who he said make it worthwhile.
"It's like Disney World. It's a really happy and giving community. That's what got me hooked," he said.
Tetz said that, for now, he is also quite content touring and giving yo-yo demonstrations.
"I have to play with toys and my friends all day," he said. "My life is so tough."