“High heels are the craziest thing ever invented. Neckties have no purpose, but at least they don’t kill your feet, they only strangle you.”
That is Hannibal City Manager Jeff LaGarce’s assessment on the footwear that a number of men will be trying to walk a mile in on Tuesday, July 30, in Central Park.
No, a wave of insanity is not targeting male members of the population in Hannibal. The donning of female footwear is actually for a good cause - AVENUES. The event has a two-fold objective: (1) Raise awareness about sexual assault; (2) Raise money for the program, which provides services to victims of domestic and sexual violence. It’s for those reasons that at least 32 men and willing to discard their pride and risk serious ankle injuries to participate.
“In my gut I don’t want to, but am I willing to do it for a good cause? Yeah,” said Father Mike Quinn, a member of the AVENUES Board. “I know it’s going to raise money for them (AVENUES) and that’s what they need, like other good social service agencies that need help.”
Jimmy O’Donnell and Lyndell Davis were “encouraged” to participate by their wives.
“My wife (Amber) being involved in it, that was a highly persuasive part of it, but it seemed like a unique way to bring awareness to a great cause,” said O’Donnell.
“My wife (Kathy) sits on the (AVENUES) board,” said Davis. “I kept hearing about it and I was getting pressure from different directions, so I went along with it. It’s for a good cause, so I can play along like everyone else.”
While an assortment of food will be available and blues music will be provided by Nowake, the main attraction will be at 6:30 p.m. when the walkers step out in women’s heels.
“I’ve been told some heels are 4 inches. One inch sounds high to me. Four inches ... we’ll have to see how it goes. I’ve never worn high heels before,” said Andy Dorian. “I have some old ankle injuries from my college sporting days. Hopefully I don’t have to wrap my ankles like I did when I played soccer.
“I’m just wanting to make one lap around the park without ending up at Hannibal Regional (Hospital).”
Dorian is not the only male with reservations about what lies ahead.
“I’ve done a lot of things athletically as far as playing basketball over the years, but I think this may prove to be one of the more challenging things I’ve gotten myself into,” said O’Donnell.
Page 2 of 2 - “I feel like a little bit of an amateur here when it comes to wearing women’s shoes, but I’ll make it a good effort,” said Davis. “I can pick up some pointers, learn how to balance myself and won’t twist an ankle in doing so.”
“I went over to AVENUES and got a pair (of heels) that would fit, but I don’t think I’ve stood up in them yet. I’ve just tried them on sitting down, so my imagination is it’s going to be like walking on mini-stilts,” said Father Quinn.
“I think there will be some spills,” predicted LaGarce, suggesting that Mayor Roy Hark is a good bet to be the first to fall.
Judy Edmonson, executive director of AVENUES in Hannibal, thinks the guys might surprise themselves.
“From the videos I’ve watched they do remarkably well, believe it or not,” she said.
According to Edmonson, at least one walker will be over 70 years old.
“He told me he’s coming in full costume,” she chuckled. “I welcome any kind of uniqueness because it’s meant to be a fun event that raises awareness and also raises funds for AVENUES.”
It’s anticipated that the spectacle will draw a sizeable audience.
“One of our walkers says he knows of at least 30 people coming to watch him. If everybody who has gotten pledges gets one or two people to come I look forward to having 250 or more people there,” said Edmonson. “It’s going to be a blast.”
“I know a bunch of people are going to come out just to laugh, I mean to watch us,” said Father Quinn. “I hope it’s a good crowd for a good cause.”
Even before taking a step in women’s heels, the thought of doing so has kindled among some men a deeper appreciation for the fairer sex.
“God bless women on how they walk in those every single day,” said Dorian. “It’s going to be an interesting event to say the least.”