JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- You may have seen more tall people than usual around Jacksonville this week, as tall people are holding a convention at the Hyatt Hotel downtown.
They like the height advantage. "I can see everything from up here, and you're never lost in a crowd," said Barry Umbs, the convention organizer and a member in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Talisha Tolliver is Miss Tall International from Southern California. She is sad she has to give up her crown this week in Jacksonville but loves that she will still be tall.
"I am way up here and people are like wow...you're so tall, I wish I was that tall. I say go on," Tolliver laughed.
More than 100 members of Tall Clubs International descended on Jacksonville for a week-long convention. Folks from 39 U.S. clubs, 2 Canadian clubs and one person came over from Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Dave Rasmussen is visiting from Milwaukee, he's the tallest in the group, just shy of 7'4".
"It has been great to see old friends and visit Jacksonville," said Rasmussen. He uses his height to his advantage. " Nobody can block by view, I am a great photographer because I can shoot over everybody else," he joked.
Rasmussen said he once was at a Presidential speech and was approached by three Secret Service men from different directions. He wondered what kind of joke his friends played on him now but says they wanted to hire him so he could do surveillance.
Barry Umbs helps organize the convention. Jacksonville was chosen because a local member suggested the convention be held here and the group checked out the city and decided to come to the First Coast.
The TCI group is also trying to revive the group here in Jacksonville which recently disbanded.
"The only thing we have in common is our height. Women have to be over 5'10" and men have to be over 6'2"," said Umbs.
This social organization for height advantage people began in 1938, they gather every year and consider each other extended family and great friends.
"There's tall people everywhere and I have my heels, and I can wear my heels and people aren't like wow you got heels, it's oh yeah you got heels, I mean hey, a girls got to have her shoes, ha ha!," said Tolliver.
"I am looking forward to dancing with some tall women this evening," added Rasmussen.
All jokes aside ... This group worked with Habitat for Humanity in Jacksonville, and supports the Marfan Foundation which fights a skeletal muscular disorder affecting tall people. And they are giving six $1,000 college scholarships to high school students who write the best essays on "what being tall means to me".
"People just need to naturally give back and these people don't hesitate," said TCI President Nancy Jacoby from Sarasota, Florida.
"The best thing about being tall is being a leader in your community, people naturally look up to you," said Susan Daniels, who is Miss Tall Houston.
They don't enjoy cramped spaces in cars and planes, and women have a tough time finding clothes and shoes, but they like to say "when you are tall you see it all".
First Coast News