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Participants will march in Fourth of July parade

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Video of a baton twirling class taught by Manteca Parks and Recreation instructor Dandi Manuel.


POSTED June 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Emily Tualla’s eyes lit up when she finally got the baton to do what she had been trying so hard to get it to do.

At only four-years-old it wasn’t easy for the eager twirler to get down the routine that Manteca Parks and Recreation instructor Dandi Manuel had in store. And it wasn’t uncommon for her to interject her own parts into the rehearsed bit – adding things here and taking things away there.

But the one thing that did remain constant was her smile, and that was more than enough to satisfy her mother Christine – a full-time worker that was glad to find programs like the one held Thursday afternoon inside of the Manteca Library’s McFall Room to give her daughter the chance to stay active.

“She’s really interested in and she likes it so that’s what matters to me,” Tualla said after the hour-long lesson wrapped up. “I don’t know much about baton twirling at all, but I think that it’s great that they offer programs like this during the summer.

“I work during the day so this is something that she can come and do. I enjoy watching her.”

While the learning curve can seem steep at first – basic patterns like the “Figure 8” can seem confusing and putting multiple moves together takes not only coordination but patience – the sky is truly the limit for those who want to pursue it beyond a recreational hobby.

Take, for example, Annette Buenrostro.

For the last four years she has been taking lessons and spends her free time both practicing new moves and perfecting the basics. She admits that she isn’t quite ready to move on to the competitive level just yet, but is happy that she has found an activity that she enjoys participating in that also presents a challenge.

“It’s really one of the only things that I’ve done that I’ve liked doing – it’s fun to meet people and work on new tricks and things like that,” she said. “I think it’s something that I’m going to stick with.”

And anyone wanting to showcase their twirling skills will have an opportunity to do so in the upcoming Fourth of July parade.

On June 29-30 and July 2-3, Manuel will be holding a mini-camp for parade hopefuls ages four and older that’s mandatory to participate in the July 4th event. Recreational twirlers as well as competitive ones – the “Graffiti Sweeties” that make appearances at community events – will be part of the event.

And with a daughter that has traveled the globe in pursuit of baton glory – winning titles in Paris and hoping to secure a college scholarship to a major university – Manuel knows what sort of benefits the sport can bestow upon its practitioners.

“My mom taught so I grew up in a household where we were all baton twirlers,” Manuel said. “I’ve been teaching this class here for about 15 years and have been doing this in one way or another my entire life.

“I love the fact that you get to make friends all over the world and I get to share something with these kids that means so much to me personally. It’s great to see them learning.”

For additional information about the upcoming camp, or future classes, contact the Manteca Parks and Recreation Department at (209) 456-8600 or visit them on the web at

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