With “Weird Al” Yankovic in town to perform at the Minnesota State Fair, the city of Darwin, Minnesota (pop. 350) has christened a roadway to honor the parodist who helped make their giant twine ball a nationally-known tourist attraction. In Darwin, located 60 miles west of the Twin Cities, a street that was once called “Twine Ball Lane” is now “Weird Alley.”
Although the California native is best-known for his comedic rewrites of songs like “Gangsta’s Paradise” (“Amish Paradise”) and “Party in the USA” (“Party in the CIA”), Yankovic has also written and recorded numerous original songs. One of them, “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” (1989), is an epic tribute to what Darwin advertises as the “World’s Largest Twine Ball Rolled by One Man.”
The late Francis A. Johnson worked at his 17,400-pound marvel for nearly 30 years. According to Guinness, a similar ball in Texas is slightly larger, but of course that doesn’t invalidate Yankovic’s song title. “I’ve finally made it,” tweeted Yankovic — quite the statement from an artist who’s often been similarly referenced by megastar musicians who say they know they’ve really made it when their songs get the “Weird Al” treatment.
“This here’s what America’s all about,” wrote the Darwin Twine Ball’s keepers, citing all Yankovic “has done to promote the Twine Ball and Darwin.” Those efforts include a personal visit in 1996, documented in the Twine Ball Museum. According to Darwin mayor Josh Johnson, 20 Darwinians are planning to see “Weird Al” at the Grandstand on Tuesday. “It’s really exciting for us,” Johnson told the Star Tribune. “We appreciate all the attention he’s shown the town.”
To celebrate @alyankovic’s @mnstatefair appearance this week and to honor all he has done to promote the Twine Ball and Darwin, Twine Ball Lane will now also be known as Weird Alley. Thanks for everything, Al! This here’s what America’s all about. https://t.co/IcF9VD7IhK pic.twitter.com/Hr9e6z3i37
— Darwin Twine Ball (@DarwinTwineBall) August 26, 2019