By Alicia Dziak
The Hootenanny has been a long-time tradition at Allegany State Park (ASP). The family sing-along event has been led by Sally Marsh for over 40 years, held every Thursday night at 8 p.m. at the Quaker Amphitheater throughout the summer. One of the Hootenanny staples is “Old MacDonald” and because of this, Marsh decided to try to make history on Aug. 17, 2013, by attempting to break the Guinness Book of World Records record for most people singing the classic tune at once.
“I love singing Old MacDonald with the kids, and I let them each be an animal and sing into the microphone,” said Marsh. “I have 50-75 kids sometimes, and I kiddingly said we should try to set the Guinness record for most people singing the song at once. My friend looked it up and there really was one, so we decided to organize an event to try and break the record.”
The event was held on a perfect summer day at ASP, and 375 people met at the Quaker Amphitheater to join in singing 18 verses of the song, beating the former record of 332 people.
It was a day to remember, with participants decked out in Hootenanny T-shirts, watching the cue cards to make sure they were all in sync. Marsh led the charge, and officials walked around to make sure everyone was actually singing.
“After the event, we had to send all the documentation in a book to them in England,” explained Marsh. “It included video, pictures and signed documents from officials. The book was very precise and completed by Jo Patterson, whose hard work and dedication to detail made the process happen. Jo had called to see how we would be notified by email or mail, and it happened that just that day, Jan. 10, they had posted the official notice to their website that we had indeed beat the record.” ‘
Marsh noted that she should receive the official certificate in a few weeks.
“I am absolutely thrilled we broke the record, especially for all the wonderful helpers and for all the awesome people that came that day to make it possible!” Marsh said. “But honestly, for me, that day was the perfect day no matter what the results were. Everyone should have a memory like that, one you never forget, and I never will. Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart!”
To get in on the fun next summer, be sure to like the Hootenanny page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ AlleganyStateParkHootenanny.