Class project attempts to break Guinness World Record

Participants in the “Rue De La Rouge” street festival attempt to break Guinness world record of the largest hula hoop chain on Friday April 29, 2016 on College Street in Bowling Green. The current wold record is 572 participants, but there were about 106 participants in today’s attempt. 

Emma Austin

When five senior public relations students saw a disconnect between WKU’s campus and downtown Bowling Green, they decided to do something to bring the two communities together.

The five students began working on a semester-long project as a part of their senior capstone class with Kenneth Payne, associated professor in the School of Journalism and Broadcasting.

Frankfort senior Sawyer Coffey said the class communicated with other students and established the need for downtown events to cater more closely to WKU students.

“We kept brainstorming and brainstorming on what event we could do downtown that sounded like fun to students,” Coffey said. “We asked ourselves what we could do that they would want to come to.”

Eventually, Coffey said one of the students had the idea to break a Guinness World Record.

“We all loved the idea,” Coffey said. “So we went on the website and saw one of the records was the longest human chain to pass through a hula hoop.”

The class saw this as a way to involve a lot of people from around the community. By setting up the human chain down College Street, they used the record-breaking attempt to symbolize the joining of campus with downtown Bowling Green.

According to the Guinness World Records website, the record for the longest human chain ever to pass through a hula hoop was last broken on August 3, 2014, by Misha Collins, who organized the record-breaking attempt as a part of a project called the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.

To break this record on Friday afternoon, there needed to be more than 572 participants in the human chain on College Street.

About 150 people, including President Gary Ransdell, showed up on Friday to join hands down College Street in the record-breaking attempt.

“When’s the last time any of you played with a hula hoop?” Ransdell asked the crowd before he passed the first hoop down the line.

Although the group didn’t succeed in breaking the record, Payne said the point of the event was not to break a world record.

“The point is to try to get more students participating in things going on in the downtown area,” Payne said.

Payne said this goal has been a part of the capstone class for three years now.

“We regenerate the ideas every year, and the students follow through with different projects,” he explained.

Payne said they have been working with the Downtown Redevelopment Authority to come up with different ways to entice students to go down and participate in activities and facilities, including restaurants, the Capitol Theater film festival and the Hot Rods Stadium.

The record-breaking attempt on Friday was a part of Rue de la Rouge, a street festival organized by the capstone class to involve each of these businesses.

The class also developed BGVibe, a website offering information about multiple Bowling Green businesses including Hilligans Bar and Grill, White Squirrel Brewery, Spencer’s Coffee and more.

After meetings with the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Payne said the merchants and vendors of Bowling Green have shown interest in finding out how to bring more students downtown.

“I don’t think just one activity is going to move the needle,” Payne said. “It’s going to be a series of things that ultimately help better connect the community with the town.”