Rainbow Loom trend hits Long Island
Sisters Ava and Veronica Walkin and their friend Hannah Van Son sit at a table in the Walkins' Cold Spring Harbor backyard, intently working on a craze that's overtaken kids across Long Island: designing elaborate rubber-band bracelets on an loom about the size of a cribbage board.
Kids create them at home, on vacation, during summer camp. "There are rubber bands all over our car," says Ava, 9. Patterns have names like swimmers' dives: fishtail, starburst, zipper, triple single.
Both girls and boys make them and wear them five, six, eight at a time, stacked on one or both arms. "We were at the orthodontist today and everybody had them on their wrists -- boys and girls," says mom Carolyn Walkin.
The Rainbow Looms -- usually $14.99 each -- have been flying off shelves at neighborhood stores and craft-store giants, causing moms and dads to frantically text and post on Facebook in search of stores that are stocked, parents say.
"It's insane," says Alex Dank, owner of Mother Goose Toys in Westhampton Beach. "It's the big rage of the summer. If the teachers don't ban it, it might go until Christmas."
"It's a hot seller," agrees Lisa Hodes, owner of Sweeties Candy Cottage in Huntington. "It's not quite as hot as Silly Bandz, but it is the closest thing since Silly Bandz."
Silly Bandz -- thin, single rubber-band bracelets shaped like animals, musical instruments, and more -- were a fad in 2010, when some Long Island schools banned them because they were a distraction.
These bracelets are more interesting because they are thicker and you can make them yourself, fanatics say. YouTube tutorials take kids step-by-step through patterns. Besides bracelets, kids make rings and anklets. While some stores sell rubber-band jewelry already made, kids interviewed say they want to create their own.
"It's amazing how these little rubber bands make all different kinds of bracelets," says Andrew Glick, 9, of Dix Hills. "You don't have to make them all girlie, pink and purple. You can make them red, blue, green."
Says Marlene Niehaus of Northport, whose son, Ben, 6, asked for a loom: "I was very shocked when my son came back from camp two weeks ago and said all the boys at his sports camp were making them."
Some kids are designing bracelets in their sports team colors as a show of spirit, says Sweeties' employee Laura Mills. Refill bags of rubber bands come in neon, tie-dye, glitter and more.
Hannah Van Son, 8, of Lloyd Harbor is making red, white and blue bracelets -- her school colors -- to put in her birthday party goody bag. She's also hoping to sell some on the beach in Montauk.
Toys R Us has picked up on the phenomenon, selling a Shimmer n Sparkle Cra-Z-Loom Bracelet Maker for $14.99 and offering free classes 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays through Nov. 23.
Parents say they're thrilled kids are focusing on this activity. "It's not a video game. It's not the TV," says Wendy Frankof Dix Hills, whose children, Isabelle, 13, and Justin, 9, share a loom. "I like the fact that they are doing something that is kind of old-fashioned. It reminds me of the lanyards . . . and the things I used to do as a kid. It's a throwback."
Maya Mohammed, 7, of Rockville Centre wears two pastel-colored bracelets that a cousin made her. "I think they're cool," she says.
Even older kids are wearing the bangles, frequently courtesy of younger siblings. Steven Tsiolis, 16, of Syosset wears a black-and-green bracelet his 13-year-old sister, Katherine, made for him. "I like how it feels," he says. "It's cool, and it looks nice."