Spirit Crowns Gilda’s LaughFest Community Kickoff, Even If World Record Doesn’t [Videos]
A paper crown-capped world record was part of the agenda at the Gilda's LaughFest Community Kickoff.
The Fountain Street Church sanctuary was pretty much filled by an audience mostly capped by yellow-colored, Baudville- and Feyen Zylstra-emblazoned paper LaughFest crowns. They were clapping, tapping and dancing along to songs such as Kenny Loggins' "Footloose" and Pharrell Williams' "Happy," led by a cheering group of on-stage dancers.
World Record Try
LaughFest officials put the number of paper crown-wearing people at 489, pretty much shy of the 1,324 who wore paper crowns July 22, 2014, in Tamilnadu, India, to set the current Guinness World Record.
That didn't phase the crowd a bit. Well, maybe a little when co-host Todd Chance, entertainment concierge for The Grand Rapids Press/MLive Media Group admitted the world-record "try" was, perhaps, just that.
So, no world record. That broke a string of four consecutive record-setting kickoff events, with 1,675 in-the-dark sunglass wearers in 2014; 1,532 fake mustache donners in 2013; 607 animal-nosed participants in 2012; and 925 rubber chicken tossers in 2011.
However, the energy exuded was palpable on the opening evening of the fifth annual 11-day comedy festival. The atmosphere included rousing comments from Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom and Mike Radner, the older brother of late comedian Gilda Radner -- the namesake of Gilda's LaughFest and event sponsor-beneficiary Gilda's Club of Grand Rapids.
It all brought a genuine smile to Wendy Wigger, the president of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and LaughFest.
She expressed excitement with the attempt and "the spirit shown here," adding that coming "close to breaking another record, four out of five years of breaking a world record isn’t bad."
Fountain Street Church's Warm Confines
Wigger also pointed out the decision to relocate the kickoff from Rosa Parks Circle to Fountain Street Church's warm confines got underlined as solid. The temperature was 13 degrees with a zero-degree wind chill outdoors when the paper crowns were being counted, according to the National Weather Service's Grand Rapids Office.
The kickoff's relocation was a big reason why neighbors Heidi Leonard and Kim Carey and their four children were on hand. Plus, it didn't hurt that the church is also Leonard's home for her faith.
"I'm much happier they decided to do that," Leonard said of the kickoff's move. "I was pleased to come here, although I was a little bit disappointed" with black draping covering Fountain Street Church's majestic pipe organ during the event.
That was a minor factor that didn't matter much to Leonard's nine-year-old daughter, Jackie, nor her friend, 10-year-old Natasha Carey.
Both were beaming as they clutched some LaughFest goodies, with Jackie joking that she "almost killed somebody" trying to grab an official sweatshirt. It had been tossed out to the crowd along with other festival swag and MLive Media Group-embossed fabric flying discs.
"It was really fun," Jackie said of the kickoff.
From the looks of the smiles throughout the crowd, there were a lot of others who agreed with her.
LaughFest 2015 is at more than 40 venues in Grand Rapids, Ada, Holland and Lowell and runs through March 15.
The headliners during the festival include the March 10 Signature Event with Jim Breuer, Kathleen Madigan, Sinbad and Justin Willma in addition to performances by comedians Billy Gardell, George Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Nick Thune, Brody Stevens, Patton Oswalt, Bo Burnham, Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood, Lavell Crawford, Brian Posehn, Cristela Alonzo, Pete Holmes, Jim Jefferies and Iliza Shlesinger, among others.
Other activities include FUNderwear 5K, Seriously Funny Family Adventure Challenge and People and Pets along with comedy showcases and competitions.