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Yo-yos are more than just toys for Lodi’s Steve Speegle

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Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013 12:00 am

Wandering the halls of Hutchins Street Square, one would never imagine the massive yo-yo collection on display is for sale. Well, it is. One can buy the entire collection or just parts of the collection.

Steve Speegle, professional Santa Claus and collector of yo-yos, has displayed about 40 percent of his yo-yo collection at Hutchins Street Square for the past four years.

The yo-yo was a toy he played with as a child, but he only began collecting them in adulthood. He is able to spin the yo-yo and even make them do tricks.

Speegle drew a neon yellow, butterfly-style yo-yo out of his pocket, and with a flick of his wrist he released the yo-yo into a dizzying spin. Then, with a few fluid movements, he did the tricks "rock the cradle" and "around the world."

The exhibit will close in less than a month, on Feb. 15, so this may be the last chance to see this extraordinary collection.

Speegle began the collection in 1992, with the goal of building a museum. Ultimately, he would love to see yo-yo play in the Olympic Games.

"It would be great to see rhythmic gymnastic yo-yo competition by 2016," said Speegle.

Speegle was born on a U.S. Navy base in Portsmouth, Va. He married, then moved to Lodi in the summer of 1976, eventually opening a car restoration business.

He attended California State University, Chico, earning two master's degrees, one in drama and the other in counseling psychology.

Speegle never dreamed he would have dual connections to Chico — the college and the yo-yo.

Chico is home the National Yo-Yo Museum and the National Yo-Yo Competition.

Speegle's collection ranges from dollar-store buys, to very expensive yo-yos, to near-priceless memorabilia — all of which are for sale.

With his goal to make yo-yo play an Olympic sport, he needs to sell. The price is negotiable; his collection includes yo-yos costing less than a dollar to ones valued at more than $3,000.

The sale of his collection would allow Speegle to raise enough money to offer a cash prize for a yo-yo competition, which he hopes would capture the attention of Olympic organizers and bring yo-yos into the world of sports.

Even some of Speegle's favorite yo-yos are up for sale, including a personally engraved wooden yo-yo given to Speegle by a man in Watts, and custom-ordered Duncan business seal yo-yos, which were made with the Duncan company seal embossed on them.

Yo-yos aren't the only thing Speegle collects; he also has a collection of over a thousand Santa Claus items.

Speegle welcomes anyone to visit the exhibit before it closes, and is willing to give guided tours. For a tour, call 209-329-5497.

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