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Monday, May 19, 2008

Kazoo fest

Kazooists hope to hum their way to world record

By Mariana Stebbins
Special to the Register

Imagine 6,000 adults and children pursing their lips at once, and creating a joyful noise.
The resulting sound might not be quite mellifluous, as all of those people will be playing “Yankee Doodle” on kazoos, but it should bring joy, since the aim is to help the Easter Seals Goodwill Industries break the world record for the largest kazoo ensemble.
The effort, to take place Saturday at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, will also raise money for Easter Seals Goodwill Industries efforts to help people with disabilities.
“We wanted to raise the spirits of Connecticut residents with something new and fun, something family-oriented,” said Edwin Selden, development and external affairs director at ESGI. “Baseball is America’s favorite sport, and Memorial weekend was coming. ... Then I heard on the radio that someone was trying to break the world record for a kazoo ensemble and I thought: ‘That’s it!’”
The idea, received with giggles and laughs, Selden said, was soon seriously considered as a good option to increase ESGI’s visibility in eastern Connecticut, since their service territory extends all the way to the Rhode Island border. The game at Dodd that day will be the Connecticut Defenders against the Harrisburg Senators of Pennsylvania, with the audience first humming the first four of the 93 verses of Yankee Doodle, the Connecticut state song.
“Everybody I mention it to has a smile on their face,” Selden said. “It is something fun and very family-friendly, and this is what our organization is all about.”
The attempt to break the record will start at 6:15 p.m., right before the game, but participants should arrive at 5:30 p.m. to sign the authentication book, Selden said.
Because Guinness World Records requires that players be proficient, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2, will first conduct a warm-up session with the help of the “Cathedral Yankee Doodle Singers,” a one-and-only-one performance group formed by members of the Cathedral Choir of the Diocese of Norwich.
“We are very excited,” said Douglas Green, master of the choir, who will lead the audience by singing Yankee Doodle. “We are going to do it (break the record).”
Mayors Ben Lathrop of Norwich and Dennis Popp of Groton will witness the ensemble to comply with the Guinness World Records’ requirement that people of known public respect be present to validate the event.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Chapter recently broke the previous world record of 2,679 kazooists April 29, gathering 2,820 people at a Cardinals baseball game in Springfield, Mo. Although ESGI would only need 2,821 people to break the record, they expect to fill Dodd Stadium’s capacity of 6,000 people.
Part of the game’s proceeds will support various programs ESGI offers to enhance employment, educational and social opportunities to people who are mentally or physically disabled or who face other challenges.
Some of the agency’s programs include summer camps for children, day centers for seniors and people with disabilities, and employment services for ex-offenders.
“I have 6,000 kazoos waiting in my office,” said Selden, who hopes to distribute all of them.
To order tickets, visit www.ctdefenders.com, or call (860) 887-7962.
Mariana Stebbins is a New Haven Register intern.

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