The easiest way to set a world record is to create the record.
That was the strategy employed by the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District, which organized more than 500 people at the entrance to the Times Union Center on Wednesday afternoon to sing the holiday classic “Jingle Bells” while ringing jingle bells. After organizers passed out lyrics and bells, a sprightly Santa Claus kicked off the singing from a perch overlooking the sea of excited people.
Hank Biernacki of Albany was one of the few participants who didn’t need to be supplied with bells, as he came prepared with a set he has owned for about 35 years. From the side of the crowd he sang and rang his bells, which consisted of four bells attached to a piece of wood.
“This used to be in a store that was in downtown Albany, years and years ago,” said Biernacki, who was going by the store at the right time when they were going out of business. “I break them out on the holidays.”
Helping to kick off the event were Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, who warmed up the crowd for the big moment.
First there was a coordinated dry run, with people waving and shaking their bells in the air and singing the “Jingle Bells” chorus. For the record-setting rendition, the group was led by a singer being projected from the sound system, which kept everyone on the same beat.
Georgette Steffens, executive director of the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District, said the event served as a good break in the day.
This sentiment was echoed by Biernacki, who was initially concerned that not many people would show up. “It was a better turnout than I anticipated,” he said. “It was great.”
The event was the culmination of the organization’s Jingle Elf Quest program, which started last week with a holiday scavenger hunt for elves at 40 member businesses and organizations. Biernacki said it was great to have the community come together for such a positive event. “It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season,” he said.
Once an official tally is compiled of the crowd, the record will be posted at www.recordsetter.com, which is home to a variety of world records that people share. There are currently three other records related to “Jingle Bells” listed on the site — none of them having to do with most people singing the song at once.