RECORD FOR THE MOST SANTA HATS ON TWO CONTINENTS SIMULTANEOUSLY
BROCTON, MA. & MULLINGAR, IRELAND
What have Brockton, Massachusetts and Mullingar, Ireland had in common?
A competition to see which community can gather the most people together wearing Santa hats.
THE COMPETITION STARTS IN 2009
In 2008 Brocktonians gathered together to set a world record for the most people wearing Santa hats. Over 500 persons participated.
The following year the Irish Echo reported that Mullingar had joined in on the fun and broken Brockton’s record with a gathering of 780 persons.
The competition was on. In 2010 Brocton reclaimed its record with 982 participants, and maintained the record in 2011 with 1780 participants. This year the two communities are collaborating rather than competing. They aim to set a world record for the most simultaneous Santa hat wearers on two continents. Readers can view a live simulcast with a CLICK HERE FOR LIVE SIMULCAST at 1:00 p. m. today, November 18, 2012.
NOTE: If you live in Ireland click on the site at 6:00 p. m.1
I must confess that even though the competition turned into a collaboration intrigues me, I have an ulterior interest in Brocton. My father, Robert William Cornell, was born and raised on Cross Street in that city.
My husband Monte and I visit the community when we travel through New England.
In 2003 Monte and I raced a storm and reached Brocton a half hour before the mid-February blizzard. We were there for the funeral of my aunt, Nyllis Gardner.
On another note:
What do Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania and Brocton, Massachusetts have in common?
Mary Rugh Cubbage Cornell, the granddaughter of Michael Rugh, one of the original pioneer settlers in Westmoreland County (my home county), married Broctonian Irving Cornell and lived out her post-marriage life in Brocton.
Let me explain. Michael and Elizabeth Rugh’s daughter Elizabeth migrated to Iowa and Illinois in the mid-1800s. She wed William Cubbage. Mary, one of their daughters, when grown, took a vacation to San Francisco, California. While there she shopped for a pair of shoes. At the shoe store she met a shoe distributor from Massachusetts, Irving Cornell. It must have been love at first sight, because they married and moved to his hometown, Brocton. Mary is buried in Coweeset Cemetery.
One of Mary and Irving Cornell’s three children, William Cornell, wed Ida Victoria Berg. One of their children, Robert William Cornell, is my father. That makes Mary my great-grandmother.
When my husband and I retired we decided to move into the Westmoreland County (PA) community where my daughter lived, the very same county where Mary’s grandfather Michael was born and raised.
So I’ve brought the circle to a close by returning to the ancestral roots Mary Rugh brought to the Brocton Cornell family.
BACK TO SANTA HATS
The Santa hat event was inspired by the story of the first department store Santa, Brockton native James Edgar.
James Edgar of Brocton, Massachusetts, was the first—the very first, mind you—department store Santa Clause. Furthermore, he was a natural for the job. He was a tall, well-padded individual with a ruddy complexion and a snowy white beard. He had a deep, rich voice, too. A friend once described him as “a lusty, loud, and happy man who loved children.”
He was a kind and generous man. He would stand on the roof of his store on Main Street and scatter pennies on the pavement below for children to gather up. On the Fourth of July every year…The merchant would hire every available trolley car in the city and transport the hundreds of youngsters to a picnic grove in nearby Avon for an all-day picnic. He footed the bill for everything.
It was at these picnics that Edgar started wearing (different) costumes…(one year) he came dressed as a clown (which was) so popular with the youngsters, so that Christmas Big Jim wore it again in his store…In 1890 Edgar decided to abandon his clown costume at Christmas…Just for a change of pace, he would appear in a Santa Claus costume and ask the children what they wanted for Christmas…4
FROM COMPETITION TO COLLABORATION
Broctonbusinessman John Merian, an organizer of the event, says talking with Marty Mulligan, the organizer of the Mullingar Santa hat challenge, changed this year’s event.
Merian was contacted last year by an Irish journalist who wanted to know what was going on with the hat challenge. Through her, Merian connected with town leaders in Mullingar.
“We could talk about maybe creating a sister city, a kinship in regard to this thing we’re doing,” he said.
Martin Mulligan of Mullingar called him, and the two decided to try to break a new record by having hundreds don the Santa hats in Brockton and Ireland at the same time.2
“Marty and I talked and said lets join forces, actually do a world record that brings two continents together, that simultaneously we’re wearing Santa hats in honor of James Edgar, doing at the same time in both places and that’s what we’re doing this year,” said Merian.6
Mullingar, a town in central Ireland in Leinster province, County Westmeath, is smaller than Brockton – the population is 20,103, compared to Brockton’s 93,810 – but they love their holidays.
The Irish town is not only turning the Santa Hat record attempt into a daylong celebration it will attempt several other world records: the world’s largest greeting card and the world record for Christmas tree cutting as part of a festival that includes live music.5
“Nobody’s done this in two separate places at the same time,” Merian said.2
“We’re a city of many cultures and we’re connecting to other cultures because of our story,” Merian said. “I think it’s magical.”He’s hoping to add a city in Australia next year.5
A BROKEN LEG FOR CHRISTMAS: http://carolyncholland.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/a-broken-leg-for-christmas/
Dear SANTA from COCHRAN: http://carolyncholland.wordpress.com/2008/12/12/dear-santa-from-cochran/