Page 11 - Summer Alumni Magazine 2012

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What began as a hobby for Troy
University alumnus and Dothan
native Doug Smith has ballooned
into a unique second career and
recently earned him recognition
from the Peoria, Ill., City Council.
A TV news photographer for
WEEK/WHOI in Peoria for the
past 22 years, Smith started his
second career of twisting balloons
into nearly any shape imaginable
in 1995 as a way to entertain his
nieces and nephews. He is now
a sought-after balloon artist who
brings happiness to people of all
ages at festivals, restaurants, fairs
and other events.
“I like seeing the kids’ faces light
up when a balloon comes together
right in front of them,” said Smith,
who taught himself the craft and
has built his repertoire to include
more than 300 creations.
Smith was honored recently with
a proclamation signed by Peoria
Mayor Jim Ardis congratulating
him on his “Unique Twist” on
life and recognizing him as an
unofficial ambassador of fun in
this central Illinois city of 115,000.
The mayor’s proclamation
describes Smith as an “ever
popular (TV) cameraman by
day and creative balloon guy by
night (who has) perfected his lock
twist, expanded his repertoire,
and pumped his way into major
festivals, trade shows and private
parties.”
Smith’s demand for balloon
twisting has grown so much in
recent years that he changed his
business name to “The Unique
Twist” and “Twisting Crew” after
adding and training a few associate
artists.
“I’d venture to say that I do five
to seven events in a typical week,”
Smith said.
Smith can twist most balloons
into a shape in five minutes or less,
but a few can take more than an
hour or two. He’s even perfected a
six-foot Santa Claus that takes 90
minutes to create.
His most popular creation is a
monkey in a banana tree, though
he’s also skilled at making
everything from armadillos to
diamond rings.
“One of my newest creations that
people are asking for is a Perry the
Platypus hat from the animated TV
show ‘Phineas and Ferb’,” Smith
said.
Smith is an award-winning TV
news cameraman who has been in
the press pool when both former
President George W. Bush and
President Barack Obama visited
Peoria.
His two careers merge once a
month when he makes balloon
creations and banters with the
WHOI anchor team as part of the
morning news show. He has been
featured in numerous Peoria news
and magazine publications.
Smith graduated from TROY’s
Hall School of Journalism and
Communications in 1984 with a
bachelor’s degree in broadcast
journalism. He worked in Florida
and Louisiana for five years before
moving to Central Illinois. He is
the son of Al and Marilyn Smith
and the brother of David Smith,
who all reside in Dothan.
Zwicky is a freelance journalist based in
Pekin, Ill.
Hobby expands into
second career for
TROY alumnus
TROY Magazine
9