Twirling away can make one’s day
In fact, a lot of grown men probably would whack themselves in the head with a baton if they tried to twirl one as they wandered through the park. And they’ll just never now how liberating such extravagant strolls can be.
Thanks to Bob Jamerson, however, folks in Edwards are finding out.
“It’s something I do on a daily basis no matter where I am,” Jamerson says. “It just takes the community some time to get used to me.”
If you live in Edwards, you’ve probably seen Jamerson this week strolling down Homestead Road or U.S. Highway 6 with his Statue of Liberty crown, an American flag sash and a baton spinning high above his head.
He’s also been seen in a majorette’s uniform.
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“I do it to lift my own spirits. What I didn’t realize is that it would start affecting other people in such a constructive way,” he says.
Jamerson, a former high school drum major who lives in St. Louis, was a flight attendant until Sept 11. He was furloughed after the terrorist attacks and was feeling a little low. So he got an idea for his three-mile morning treks through his neighborhood park –and the idea caused an instant sensation.
“I took my baton on the route and watched people’s reactions,” Jamerson says. “Then, when the holiday season came around, I went out in a little red tutu, a Santa hat and reindeer ears. And then the reporters started coming around wanting to let people in the neighborhood know who I was.”
Jamerson was in Edwards last week with his partner, Bill Nussbaum, visiting Nussbaum’s sister, Betty Kerman, and her husband, Wilbur. And just like people in St. Louis, folks in Edwards were fascinated when he started going on his liberating walks down Homestead Road.
“He’s just a lovely, lovely person,” says Edwards resident Kathy Doll. “His spirit is so wide open, and he just wants to share his fun of life.”
Indeed, Jamerson’s tantalizing treks have resulted in a few calls to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, which has sent a deputy out to check on him.
“He seems quite happy,” says Kim Andree, spokeswoman for the Eagle County Sheriff’s office.
Police officers who’ve contacted him in the past, however, haven’t always been as accommodating, Jamerson says.
“The second day I was out, I was stopped by a county sheriff. I just want to say that he was so gracious and so nice,” Jamerson says. “I’ve been in neighborhoods where the police haven’t been so nice.”
A second Eagle County deputy stopped to chat with him a few days later, just to see how he was doing and to say he was happy to have the baton twirler galavanting around the valley, Jamerson says.
But some Edwards residents have been a little confused.
“It’s really strange,” says one curious caller, wanting to know what Jamerson was all about.
But Jamerson says he’s all about spreading happiness.
“People are feeding off the joy that I’m having,” Jamerson says. “People come out of their offices and say they can’t wait until I come by every morning. They say I make their day.”
Jamerson says he’s also got a message. He says St. Louis –and other places in America – are still grappling with racial and homosexual issues.
“Because I had the courage to slip into these get-ups, and being a black male and gay, it diffuses some of the walls and some of the false images people have,” Jamerson says.
Jamerson is already something of a celebrity. He’s been featured in other newspapers, too, as well as on National Public Radio. He’s even had a few calls from Jay Leno, he says.
Locally, Jamerson’s already a hit at Moe’s Barbecue, at Edwards’ main intersection.
“He said he’s the symbol of freedom and independence in the valley,” says Jeff Kennedy, co-owner of the barbecue. “Traffic was stopped on the road Friday morning. He was out there shaking his butt and twirling.”
“It definitely livens it up,” Kennedy says. “And he’s a super nice guy.”
If you missed Jamerson, you’ll have to wait until his next visit. He left the valley Saturday, but says he’ll be back next year.
“I’m probably freer than anybody you know,” Jamerson says. “But there’s always a risk. When I first started doing this, my friends were nervous because there are some crazy people out there.”
But the folks in Edwards are crazy about Jamerson –the good kind of crazy.
“I feel like we have a little bit of San Francisco in Edwards. We value diversity up here,” says Liane Gulizia, a teacher at Edwards Elementary. “The Happy Campers at the school saw him and said to me, “There’s a guy twirling a baton; he’s so good.’ Then they said, “Is he from the circus?'”
Jamerson says he’s already got some costumes planned for his return visit. He’s thinking about a cowgirl rather than a circus get-up, but he says the Thrifty Shoppe in Edwards is one of the best places he’s ever been shopping for costumes.
“What has happened the last six months has just been a blessing,” Jamerson says. “I’ve been blessed with a great sense of joy, and I’ve been able to give it back to humanity.”
It’s been a blessing to Edwards too, says Jamerson’s host, Wilbur Kerman.
“It’s a joy having Bob around,” Kerman said. “And I think it speaks well of the neighborhood’s broad-mindedness that an overtly gay black man doing a pretty novel thing has been so universally accepted.”
Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at email@example.com.