Pupils from Mile Oak Primary School in Graham Avenue, Portslade, followed the Yellow Brick Road as they dressed as Wizard of Oz characters yesterday.Even the London Telegraph carried the news. The image above is a detail of a photo from that paper.
A total of 446 children set a Guinness World Record in the category ‘largest gathering of people dressed as characters from Wizard of Oz’.
They smashed the previous record of 250.
The Mile Oak Primary School’s gathering was part of a concerted and marketed effort for different groups to set world records on 18 November.
What I remember about reading the Guinness Book of World Records (as it was called back then) aren’t anodyne crowd events like this, but the weird, scary individual feats. That guy with the fingernails, you know? The man who held his breath underwater for an amazingly long time. (What was that funnel for?) Frankly, juggling underwater in scuba gear (one of last month’s records) doesn’t offer the same thrill.
The record book has taken out some of its listings, or refused further entries, so as to discourage people from risking their lives or others. Instead, the organization seems to be promoting audience-participation stunts like the one at Mile Oak. Nobody’s going to hurt themselves dressing up as Scarecrows, to be sure.
Record-setting may even be reversing the course we’ve followed with major sports, which over the last couple of centuries have moved from participatory to spectatory. Guinness World Records may no longer be primarily for men sitting in pubs and kids sitting in libraries, but now for participants.