There's good news for every grownup between the ages of 20 and death who would love to climb once again behind the molded plastic handlebars of a Big Wheel, if only the low-slung tricycle's famously adjustable seat (with "handy" saddle bag) had an extra-wide setting.
"Our Big Wheels are adult-sized," says Christina Wilhite, organizer of the Beale Street Big Wheel Relay Race, which is being billed as a "first annual" event benefiting the Angel Tree Foundation of the Salvation Army.
To understand the big appeal, you've got to know the Big Wheel's deep mythology, summed up neatly in a 1976 television commercial that was played in heavy rotation during Saturday morning cartoons: Three boys in Toughskins jeans (two with bowl haircuts; one with a tidy afro) own the neighborhood sidewalks as they race their red and yellow trikes past a playground full of cheering girls in plaid pants and golden sweater vests. The sole adult presence, a deep, gravely voice in the sky, narrates this scene of reckless post-toddler youth lifted directly from the kid-friendly coves of mid-century suburbia: "Big Wheels are a'rolling, listen to them turn. It's the Big Wheel sound of power with speed enough to burn! Braking ... Winning ... Spinning!"
"I loved riding Big Wheels when I was little," Wilhite says dreamily. "This event is going to be a lot like the Great Wine Race — only instead of people racing with wine, it will be people racing on Big Wheels over an obstacle course, four to a team."
Beale Street Big Wheel Relay Race, Saturday, November 26th, at 1 p.m. on Beale Street, rain or shine.
To register or for more information, go to 981themax.com.