No world record, but a peaceful gathering just the same
The attempt to create the world's largest human peace sign has fallen short, but organizers are happy with today's turnout in Cloverdale.
"It was really beautiful," said Joy Ross of Kindness is Key Training Inc., who co-organized the event along with her business partner and an army of volunteers.
The official crowd count taken at 1:30 p.m. stood at 625 people – one-tenth of the 6,000 people needed to break the world record.
But it was enough, Ross says, to have a positive impact well beyond the rolling grass-covered hillside of the Cloverdale Millennium Amphitheatre.
"By doing this today, we have reached 6 and a half million people around the world," Ross told the crowd after the count was revealed.
Good vibes abounded. And most participants seemed happy simply to find themselves outside on a beautiful, warm sunny day in September, promoting peace.
"It's exciting," said a young man from White Rock who calls himself "The Tully", adding he and his friend, Liadan Binx, also of White Rock, turned up to support the cause of peace.
They looked forward to taking in some of the free entertainment – performers were lined up for the remainder of the afternoon.
It was a diverse, happy-looking crowd, from tots to teens, and parents to seniors. Some wore tie dye t-shirts and others sported colourful casual wear. There was at least one person in a business suit.
As the crowd assembled along a giant peace sign etched into the grass in white soccer field paint, some waved their arms, made the peace sign with their hands, held balloons, blew bubbles, or broke into the odd chorus of the John Lennon and Yoko Ono anthem, Give Peace A Chance.
At one point, students from Relevant High School in Cloverdale took to the stage to sing an enthusiastic, if not pitch perfect, version of O Canada.
The area where participants formed the peace sign was roped off, with four entrances letting people in, enabling organizers to take an accurate count.
The Remax hot air balloon was pressed into service to take photographs. There was palpable excitement in the air when a small aircraft flew over the site, waving a wing tip in recognition.
Aerial photographs of the event will be used for two fundraising initiatives. Photos will be used in a charity calendar, with sales benefiting the Mercy Ships Charity Hospital Foundation, an organization that performs dental and medical surgeries and other aid work.
As well, greeting cards featuring an aerial photo of the human peace sign will be made available to local schools for fundraising.
"That was our big thing, so we're happy with that," Ross said.
The Sept. 12, 2012 attempt is just the first year of what Ross says will be an annual event. Meantime, she looked satisfied with the day's turnout and how smoothly things had gone.
"We know that multiplies. It's like Confucious says, 'Light one small candle and you light the darkness.'"