David Goetz, of Clifton Park, took time off from work Tuesday to watch his son Harrison, 7, try to break a world record, but soon found himself joining the effort.
The father and son were joined by more than 300 campers, staff, relatives and friends from the Jewish Community Center looking to set the record for the most people to simultaneously roll a car tire 100 meters.
“It was great,” David Goetz said after the effort. “It was a great experience. I’m glad I could be here with him.”
The participants, mostly children, were carefully rolling car tires 100 meters, slightly more than the length of a football field. The goal was to have 300 of them successfully complete the task without letting their tire fall.
They also followed stringent rules, including one major rule: The tire can’t fall over. If the tire falls over, that person’s out.
The camp started off with 312 people trying to make their way into the “Guinness Book of World Records,” 12 more than needed to break the existing mark of 299 set in 2001 in a small town in western Australia. But after disqualifying those whose tires tipped over at some point in the journey, only 288 were able to successfully complete the task.
“The kids had a great time. You saw the energy,” JCC Executive Director Mark Weintraub said after the results were in. “It’s our first attempt, but there’s always next year.”
The idea came from a JCC camp director, who suggested they do a big event and that breaking a record would be perfect, Weintraub said. The effort, he said, fit with the idea of summer camp.
“We can’t take things too seriously these days,” Weintraub said. “We wanted to do something that was fun.”
Next they had to determine what record to try to break. That’s when they spotted the tire-rolling record. Tuesday’s attempt was the culmination of six months of research, Weintraub said.
The first obstacle was finding the tires. A camp connection to Fogg’s Automotive in Glenville solved that problem, Weintraub said.
Next was finding the bodies. With a summer day camp that has 300 excited kids ages 3 to 12, that didn’t seem to be a problem.
One of those kids was 8-year-old Macy Drouin, of Scotia, who got to roll a tire with her grandfather.
“He wanted to help out,” Macy said before the tires got going.
As for the thought of being in the record books, she called that “very cool.”
“My mom would be really proud,” she said.
Getting the campers interested in the task wasn’t a problem, Assistant Camp Director Valerie Krawczyk said. Krawczyk helped get them going at the starting line, using her bullhorn to start a chant of “world record, world record.”
“They’re very excited,” Krawczyk said. “I think they think that we’ll make history, and they want to be in that Guinness book, so it’ll be fun.”
But then there was a little drama. They didn’t have enough people initially. Weintraub and others set to work trying to squeeze every last eligible person behind a tire.
That meant some people changed roles and some spectators, like David Goetz, got in on the action. The center itself ended up being virtually cleaned out of staff.
Finally, with Krawczyk using her bullhorn to give the signal, the rolling began. This wasn’t a race; slow and steady was the way, campers and other participants were reminded.
Among those watching for infractions as a judge was Heather Goetz, David’s wife and Harrison’s mother. Even with her husband and son taking part, she knew she had a serious job to do.
“You have to be [serious]. I have to sign the papers,” she said.
Still, as a judge, she was encouraging. As the kids focused on rolling their tires, Goetz reminded them to take their time and be careful.
As tires went down, judges were tasked with pulling the tires and their rollers to the side.
Among those who made it the full length were David and Harrison Goetz.
“I was so happy,” the 7-year-old said of making it all the way with his tire upright.
“And I was right next to you, right?” his father added. “We did it together.”