Tall Club International convention draws 100 to Dunedin: ‘A big family reunion’

If you happened to spot a group of people in Dunedin towering over the rest this past week, then you may have seen members of Tall Club International. The group is having its annual convention in the area this year. 

"We are family," Bob Huggett, A member of Tall Club International, said. "This is a big family reunion every year for us."

Huggett, who’s 6’7," met his wife in tall club.

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"She used to be 5’11", so she has dropped down a little bit," he said.

About 100 people from the United States, Canada and Wales will be in Dunedin until Sunday.

"People are always staring at me, and I feel like when I'm with my gang here, people aren’t staring at me anymore," Ellen Bayer, another member, said. "They're staring at them."

Bayer is the tallest woman in the group at 6’10."

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"We always get questions, ‘How tall are you? Did you play basketball?’" Bayer said. "I was told yesterday in the airport, this girl comes up to me, she’s like, ‘wow. You’re really a marvel,’" Bayer said. 

Tall Club International started in 1938 with the California Tip Toppers in Los Angeles.

"A woman named Kae Sumner Einfeldt, she was an animator for Walt Disney, and at the time, she was doing animation sales of dwarves for ‘Snow White and Seven Dwarves.’ Throughout the course of actions and stuff like that, she kept saying, ‘there ought to be a club for us, for the tall people,’" Huggett said. "So, she put an ad in the paper, and she got a group of people together."

They have 33 tall clubs total that feed into Tall Club International. Women have to be 5’10" to qualify, and men have to be 6’2."

This week, they went on a sunset cruise, to a Dunedin Blue Jays baseball game and Miss Tall International, Shelley Sage, was in Dunedin’s Hometown USA parade.

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"There's a lot of great things about being tall, and there's a few problems here or there, especially when you're a young woman," Sage said. "My parents didn't get it, and when I came into this space, everybody got it. It was like finding a whole huge sisterhood of people who understood."

They said they’re always looking for new members.

"We would love to attract more young people into our organization to keep it going," Sage said. "We've been doing this for about 80 years now. It's a beautiful thing. It's a lovely thing. We need more people to bring their new ideas and grow it into something new."

Tall Club International also has a college scholarship program for teens. They also raise money for the Marfan Foundation and Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that changes the proteins that help make healthy connective tissues and can affect height.


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