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Largo's bid to twist its way into history gets bogged down

Lucy Donavan's granddaughters, Leah and Olivia Donavan, were dressed for the occasion with red, white and blue ribbons in their pigtails.

However, because of the mud, their patriotic sundresses were offset by black garden boots.

"It's not a great night to dance outside because of the bad weather, but we came to become part of history,'' said Donavan, 71, a Largo resident.

Unfortunately, along with the rest of the Largo community, the Donavan family's date with history will have to wait.

Because of torrential rain at its annual Fourth of July Celebration, the city fell short in its quest to break the Guinness world record for the most people gathered to do the twist in one spot.

At 7:30 p.m., the rain had stopped and the skies were moderately clear, but only 600 people had managed to get to the park to become officially registered for the event.

Because of logistics, particularly the scheduled 9 p.m. fireworks show, coordinators had to stick to the designated start time for the attempt at record-breaking.

"I think the only thing that stopped us from achieving it was the weather,'' said Jonathan Evans, assistant to the city manager. "This is something we will attempt again. It's hard work, but the glory and the benefits of holding a world record are great.''

Unfortunately for Largo, there's a chance the standing record of 1,691 set in England in 2004 might be broken in October.

Folks in Wildwood, N.J., are planning to make their own attempt during Wildwood's Fabulous 50s Weekend.

"Wildwood was the first place that Chubby Checker ever performed the twist at the Rainbow Club,'' said Tracy DuFault, executive director of the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce. "We'll try to break the record when he performs here Oct. 16.''

Don't count Largo out just yet, said Charla Lucas, Largo's special events coordinator. "They might break it in October, but we'll have to definitely go for it again and go over their number,'' she said.

Despite the dismal number during the attempt to get in Guinness World Records, the city's Independence Day celebration was not a total loss, Evans said.

By the time the fireworks show got under way, the crowd had grown to more than 15,000 people.

"Seeing fireworks in Largo Central Park has become a great tradition,'' said Evans, noting that the Fourth of July Celebration was paid for entirely by sponsorships. "The only money the city incurred was the police and fire protection, but for the fireworks, in totality, we raised $29,700 to offset the cost of this event.''

The largest sponsor was George Glover through his Baystar Hotel Group, which owns the two hotels that border Central Park, Holiday Inn Express and the Hampton Inn. The business donated $10,000.

Up in New Jersey, the Wildwood Convention Center holds 7,000 people, DuFault said.

"We're excited about going for the record, but I would have preferred to break a U.S. record, so we had our fingers crossed for Largo all last weekend,'' she said.

New Jersey can go ahead and attempt to break it, but there's one thing they should remember:

"If they break it in October, they will only hold the record for a short period of time,'' Evans said.

"We will be back to try again. Largo is too resilient.''

fast facts

Fourth of July Celebration sponsors

Here's a list of sponsoring businesses and organizations for the city's Fourth of July Celebration held in Largo Central Park.

$10,000: BayStar Hotel Group of Tampa

$4,000: AutoWay Honda of Clearwater

$2,500: Creative Contractors of Clearwater, Pat's Pump & Blower of Orlando, Reynolds Inliner of Lake Mary.

$2,400: Pinch a Penny in Largo.

$250 and below: Banana Records and Tapes of St. Petersburg, Bayside Engineering Inc. of Tampa, Cakes by Design in Largo, Core Health of Clearwater, Eckerd Youth Alternatives of Clearwater, Escot Bus Lines of Largo, Elks Lodge of Largo, Greek Town Grill of Largo, Kiwanis Club Largo/Mid Pinellas, McDowell Orthodontics of Clearwater, Network People of Largo, Old Northwest Largo, Rotary Club of Largo, Seavy & Associates of Tampa, Volunteer Corp Advisory Board of Largo, Walsingham Wee School of Largo, Wastequip of Eaton Park , Zimmet, Unice & Salzman of Clearwater, Doug the Bug Pest Control of Largo, Main Street Chiropractic of Largo, Clearwater/St. Pete Ski & Sports of Clearwater, Bay Area Chiropractic of Largo, Grace Christian Fellowship Church of Largo, Gulfcoast Church of Largo, Hope Presbyterian Church of Clearwater, Largo Moose Lodge 2205, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church of Largo, VFW Post 10094 of Largo, Boy Scouts of America, Osceola District and Sears Home Appliance of Largo.

Largo's bid to twist its way into history gets bogged down 07/06/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 9:53pm]
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