Baltimore earns smiley face record

261 people helped get the city's Guinness World Records title

May 13, 2010|By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore looks like it has a new record to smile about.

For 11 minutes and 32 seconds, 261 people stood at the Maryland Science Center plaza Thursday to form what organizers said was the world's largest smiley face as part of the launch of a new city tourism campaign.

The orange and black smiley face that resembled a lumpy jack-o-lantern grinned up at members of the media gathered on the roof of the science center as a police helicopter circled above. It appeared to be enough to earn the Guinness World Records title for the largest human smiley face.

The smiley face helped kick off Visit Baltimore's new summer campaign, "Find Your Happy Place in Baltimore."

Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake spoke to the crowd beforehand, saying "once we resolve this deficit, I will find my happy place" and that "tourism is vital to the economic health of our city." She also praised the Baltimore Grand Prix, the city's newest attraction.

Besides mustering a group larger than 250, Visit Baltimore had to hold the smiley face formation for a minimum of 10 minutes. The majority of the faces were members of the Certified Tourism Ambassadors program, which trains employees in the tourism industry in Baltimore history.

"I'm finally a legend," joked Anika Middleton of the While You Were Out Concierge Service. "I'm in the Guinness book."

However, not all of the ambassadors in attendance joined the smiley face.

Lt. Marc Partee with the Inner Harbor police unit watched as the group slowly shuffled through the line. He said many officers in the Inner Harbor unit receive tourism ambassador certifications, adding that many have been asked by visitors how to find the aquarium.

While the ambassadors made up most of the face, a number of people who were walking along the water joined in, including two grad students passing through town on their way to Washington for a conference.

John Carrell and Cheng Cheng Fan walked up out of curiosity. The two industrial engineering students from Texas Tech said they were attending a conference but stopped in Baltimore for dinner after picking up their lost luggage at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

"The harbor is really nice," Carrell said, adding that the two planned to do some sightseeing for a day and asked for suggestions on where to go.

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