Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Feb. 11
Homegrown (and Blown) Chompie on its Way to MD to Celebrate Shark Week
Do you know that San Diego is the birthplace of the giant inflatable industry? Admittedly, it's not like laying claim to being the home of the penicillin vaccine or pizzas delivered to your house in less than 30 minutes, but if you have ever spied a giant Spider-Man atop a movie theatre or a giant King Kong clinging to the Empire State Building, you have CMEANN (pronounced: SEE-ME-ANN) Prod., Inc. in El Cajon to thank.
The company began 30 years ago under the name of Robert Keith, Inc. (No, not that Robert Keith.) La Mesa's Ann Wawer took control of the ballooning business a decade ago and her company's work has been seen in just about every conceivable entertainment venue, theme park, Super Bowl halftime show, and concert setting there is.
This week, CMEANN's latest creation is on its way to Silver Spring, MD to adorn the exterior of the Discovery Channel's Communications' Headquarters in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the cable outlet's popular Shark Week.
Chompie is a massive 446 feet long from the tip of his nose to the back of his tail, 113 feet tall from his belly to his dorsal fin, and 200 feet wide from tip to tip of his side fins. If he were a real shark, he would tip the scales at 84,000 pounds! That's enough to keep Spielberg and his family in steaks for the rest of their lives!
They had to chop Chompie in five (head, two side fins, dorsal fin, and tail) in order to make the effect work. The ferocious looking fabric fish, composed of 11,720 yards or 6.65 miles of fabric, will be hoisted into place by a crane and tied down by cables and ropes. Chompie must be continuously inflated by air while he is installed. It takes 10 air blowers pumping 2,000 cubic feet of air per minute to inflate the shark.
Here's a delightful piece concerning the difficulty the company encountered when King Kong, hanging from the Empire State Building to commemorate the film's 50th Anniversary, suffered a shoulder injury.