DANVILLE — If the Festival of Trees isn’t enough of an undertaking for volunteers and the Presence United Samaritans Medical Center’s Foundation, add finding more than 762 “elves” to take part in the annual Polar Express event.
“We’re pretty ambitious,” said Angie Lazzell, event coordinator for the festival that starts Saturday.
Each year, as part of the Polar Express special event on Saturday and Sunday of the festival, volunteer “elves” wave and smile from the street, greeting the “trains” or buses filled with children arriving at the David S. Palmer Arena downtown.
So director/producer of the Polar Express event this year, Roxy Reed, thought it was the perfect set up for a world record attempt.
Reed, who is known for her work with the CASA — Court Appointed Special Advocates — Royal Ball, and the other organizers are attempting to set the world record for the greatest number of elves gathered in one location — other than the North Pole, of course.
The big event is set for 5:30 p.m. Sunday, during the second running of the Polar Express for the weekend.
“The idea is inspired by my mother, Ruth Ann Earl, who has spent the last three weeks sewing four giant red satin sheets into what could be the largest Santa sack ever recorded,” Reed said through a press release.
“This sack will be descended from the ceiling during the stage show of the Polar Express, reminiscent of the North Pole scene in the movie. In looking up world records for Santa sacks, we came across an elf-gathering record and thought: ‘We got this,’” Reed said.
Lazzell said this year’s Polar Express event also has more actors — a cast of 67.
Taking on such a large-scale elf gathering requires a lot of support from local officials, so festival organizers approached Mayor Scott Eisenhauer to partner with the city of Danville in the effort.
“Our city and surrounding communities always pull together for great causes like the Festival of Trees,” Eisenhauer said in the press release. “Danville is known for its volunteerism and enthusiasm, so why not try for a place in the record books? If anyone can do this, Danville can. But we need everyone’s help.”
The current Guinness World Record is held by Ammanford Town in England, with 762 participants dressed as elves.
According to Guinness World Records, the largest gathering of Santa’s elves consisted of 762 participants and was achieved by Ammanford Town Centre (UK) in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, UK, on Nov. 17, 2012. Hundreds of people in another England town also tried to beat the record this past weekend.
In order to be officially counted in the effort, participants must do the following:
Dress the part: Both pants and shirts must be red, green, or a combination thereof.
Wear a pointy hat—Santa or elf. There will be 500 hats available for the first 500 to check in, but participants are encouraged to bring their own.
Wear pointed elf ears. Bring your own, or they will be supplied.
Check-in between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17 at the entrance of the Old National Bank parking lot across from the arena. Participants will receive a wristband and be counted.
Children under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
No pets, skateboards or alcoholic beverages permitted.
There will be an electronic sign outside the arena with a scrolling elf count in real time from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. as volunteers check in. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly and bring thermoses of hot chocolate or coffee.
The group of elves also will sing two mass carols, led by the Sweet Adelines.
“This is a chance for us all to come together to do something easy and amazing at the same time. You just have to wear red and green, show up and get counted. It’s so easy,” Reed said.
Registration of elves will begin at 4 p.m. in the Old National parking lot on Sunday. Elves will stay through the 5:30 p.m. count and greeting of the last Polar Express buses shortly after.
For more information on the 2013 Festival of Trees, presented by Presence United Samaritans Medical Center’s Foundation, visit http://presencehealth.org/festivaloftrees.
The 2013 Festival of Trees Platinum Sponsor is the Julius W. Hegeler II Foundation. Proceeds from the Festival of Trees benefit outreach programs of Presence United Samaritans Medical Center’s Foundation such as I Sing the Body Electric, the HALO Project, Faith in Action and Young Women/Men Aware.