Record-setting teeter-totter brings smiles – and pays for them

An 85-foot-long teeter-totter is bringing smiles to the California State University, Sacramento, campus and promises to bring new ones to those needing facial reconstruction around the world.

Official confirmation is pending, but the team that built the giant piece of play equipment says it has bested the old Guinness World Record for teeter-totters, which is 79 feet, 2 inches. The funds raised through donations, T-shirt sales and other activities connected to the project will be contributed to Alliance for Smiles, a San Francisco-based charity performing corrective facial surgeries around the world, said Denise Barajas, president of the campus Rotaract Club behind the Teeter-Totter-a-Thon.

The teeter-totter opened for operation at 8 a.m. Wednesday with a suggested donation of $3. It was scheduled to be locked down at 8 p.m., then reopened from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. today. The ride – located in front of the campus fitness center –is open to the public.

This is the fifth and final year of the Rotaract Teeter-Totter-a-Thon fundraiser, said Barajas. Each year, the teeter-totters have grown incrementally larger.

“We wanted to end with a bang,” Barajas said of the attempt to break the record. On Wednesday, the lawn around the giant teeter-totter was buzzing with activity. As electronic music was pumped from speakers, five organization presidents, including Barajas, lined up to be hit with pies in the face in support of the charity.

A short line of people waited to climb aboard the device, built with the help of two area Rotary Clubs. The 85-foot lever, constructed using the relatively lightweight material aluminum, still weighs in at 800 lbs, said Roland Wright, the Foothill-Highlands Rotary Club member behind the construction. His team considered wood and steel but ruled them out. A steel teeter-totter of that size would have weighed 3 tons, Wright said.

What will happen with the teeter-totter, which cost $3,000 in materials, after the campus event is less clear. The immediate plan is to exhibit the teeter-totter at the North Highlands Memorial Day parade. After that? Who knows, said Wright.