The Guinness Book of World Records is endlessly diverse, as reflected by this unusual accomplishment: “Largest gathering of people dressed as cows.” The current record is 298, set last year by the fine folks at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Simcoe, Ontario in Canada.
The folks at Chick-fil-A are looking to take that record down in a gathering Tuesday morning in the field house at George Mason University in Fairfax. The operators of the 18 stores around Northern Virginia have organized a “Chick-Fil-A Break the Record Event” in which participants must wear full cow outfits, including footwear and a headpiece, and must remain in position for at least five minutes. A representative from the Guinness Book will be there “to verify that all participants are in the required attire,” Guinness spokeswoman Jamie Panas said Monday.
The run at the record books is part of Chick-fil-A’s long-running ad campaign of using “fearless cows” who, according to the company’s website, have been “acting in enlightened self-interest,” to promote the consumption of chicken rather than beef since 1995. Helen Hevia, a spokeswoman for the local Chick-fil-A operators, said the cow-suit record idea came up in a regional marketing meeting after the young son of one operator had spotted in the Guinness book. It also helps promote the chain’s Cow Appreciation Day® (yes, it’s a registered trademark, so don’t try to steal it for your own bovine recognition period) on July 12, when anyone who walks into a Chick-fil-A in a full cow outfit gets a free meal.
Chick-fil-A is being allowed to use the George Mason field house free of charge on Tuesday because the Fairfax Circle restaurant is a sponsor of the Mason athletic program, to the tune of $50,000 annually, according to associate athletic director Maureen Nasser. Also, the Patriot Center wasn’t available.
Chick-fil-A has absorbed some criticism because its chief operating officer, Dan Cathy, opposes gay marriage and because its charitable arm, WinShape, donated to groups which oppose gay rights. The mayors of Boston, Chicago and San Francisco said last year the chain was not welcome in their cities. Some colleges, such as St. Mary’s College in St. Mary’s City, Md., and Northeastern University in Boston
and Elon University in North Carolina, have ended their ties with Chick-fil-A because of the controversy. Chick-fil-A does have a small outlet on the Mason campus. Nasser said that the company had been a Mason sponsor since 2010, prior to the recent controversy, and that “people are welcome to their views. That’s one person’s view in that organization.”
If you want to participate in the attempt to beat the cow-suit world record, the organizers request that you bring a can of food for the Capital Area Food Bank, and arrive by 10 a.m. at the fieldhouse, on the corner of Route 123 and University Drive. The actual record attempt is set for 11 a.m. And if you’re looking to set the record for “Largest gathering of people wearing false moustaches“(1,532) or “Largest gathering of people dressed as sumo wrestlers” (205), you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Note: This post has been updated to reflect that Chick-fil-A was not ejected from the Elon University campus. The student government voted to ask that it be replaced, but the university’s board of trustees decided that was not an appropriate action.