Olympic dominoes topple to cheers
By Kevin O’Connor
Staff Writer | February 18,2014
Kevin O’Connor / Staff Photo
Visiting teenagers, from left, Shane O’Brien, Nathan Heck, Lily Hevesh and Christopher Wright show off the Olympic rings they constructed from 4,500 dominoes — the centerpiece of a 30,000-tile mosaic toppled Monday at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.
It may not rival the malfunctioning Olympic rings seen around the world at the opening of the Sochi Winter Games. But a standing-room-only crowd at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center gasped Monday as a 30,000-tile mosaic featuring the same colorful circles fell spectacularly to pieces on live television.
Then again, billed as a “Domino Toppling Extravaganza,” it was supposed to.
Hundreds of locals, joined by thousands of viewers of WCAX-TV’s 5 o’clock news, caught their breaths and cheered as a 40-by-12-foot creation three long days in the making collapsed on cue in three short minutes.
More amazing still: The work showcased in the center of the museum’s Wolf Kahn & Emily Mason Gallery was created by four visiting teenagers.
The seventh annual spectacle began in 2008 when museum director Danny Lichtenfeld — the father of a then 7-year-old — saw a YouTube video of domino creations by the Perrucci brothers of Perkasie, Pa.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do that here,’” Lichtenfeld recalled. “It seemed like a fun and creative thing to get kids in, and it has proven to be just that.”
Returning annually, the brothers enlisted New Jersey student Shane O’Brien to help in 2011 and passed leadership of the project to him last year. O’Brien, now 17, found assistance this month from three fellow domino enthusiasts he met online: Lily Hevesh, 15, of New Hampshire, Christopher Wright, 16, of New York and Nathan Heck, 13, of North Carolina.
For students and their parents, that meant driving up to 13 hours Friday so the four teenagers could set up dominoes for 10 hours Saturday, 11 hours Sunday and seven hours Monday.
Think today’s youth lack patience and perseverance? This quartet began drafting blueprints last autumn detailing the counts and colors of dominoes required to create pictures (3,000 blue and white for a portrait of Sonic the Hedgehog), as well as pyramids and the five Olympic rings made of 4,500 multihued tiles.
Then came the agonizing hour when the museum unlocked its doors and a crowd jockeyed around a slight fence of sticks and string to await the chain reaction.
“The entire experience is something I enjoy,” O’Brien said. “But the greatest moment is the second the last domino falls. Once it’s all over, it’s a sigh of relief.”