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If you’ve ever wanted to be in a parade, you may have your chance. The Davis Odd Fellows are looking for thousands of cyclists to help them beat the world record for the largest bicycle parade.
The UC Davis Aggie Pack held the Guinness World Record for the largest bicycle parade briefly in March of 2007 with 822 bicyclists.
“They were fairly limited events focused on the campus,” spokesman for Odd Fellows Dave Rosenberg said. “This is a community-wide event.In fact, it’s Northern California-wide. We’ve been finding folks from all over to come out and participate.”
The record set by the students was beaten in June of that year by Taipei City, Taiwan, with 1,901 bicyclists. The current record is now held by Bangkok, with 3,515 participating cyclists. But the Odd Fellows hope to win it back for the city of Davis.
“We have a lot of bikes in the U.S., and Davis is known as the bike capital of America,” Rosenberg said. “We’re home to the bicycle hall of fame, and there are more bikes in Davis than people.”
The Odd Fellows are a worldwide organization focused on supporting communities and charities. The Davis chapter is the oldest organization in the city of Davis, established in 1870, decades before UC Davis’s founding in 1908.
Because of its commitment to helping the community, the Odd Fellows organization plans to donate all proceeds to Davis schools. Money will be raised through a small registration fee and sponsorships. Participants not only get to help in the record-breaking attempt, but will also receive a T-shirt with the official logo of the bike parade. So far, the Odd Fellows have gained support from the Davis City Council, the School Board, the Davis Downtown Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce.
“No one has said no, so everyone is sort of slowly coming on board,” Rosenberg said.
Christi Skibbins, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said they’re doing everything they can to help the organization gain sponsors.
“I met with one of the organizers and gave them some advice about the event itself and sponsorship and that sort of thing,” Skibbins said. “We have a mission statement here to represent the interests of local businesses, but also to help the quality of life for the community. And this definitely falls into the quality of life category.”
The Yolo County Visitors Bureau has also gotten involved. The organization has helped with press releases and generating coverage for the parade. Visitors Bureau spokeswoman Diane Parro said they’re excited that the bike parade will provide a fun event for the community.
“We love everything that has to do with bicycles, and we have for several decades, Parro said. “This is a natural extension of what we love about living here. This parade is going to be fabulous for families and spectators--it promotes the thing we love the best and asks us to get on our bikes. We really rise to that kind of occasion. We love that kind of challenge.”
The parade will be held Oct. 3, starting at the Odd Fellows Lodge on Second Street. Cyclists will then head up F Street for about a mile before turning down 14th Street. The parade will then bike through the North Davis Elementary School parking lot and make a U-turn, ending back at the Odd Fellows Lodge. The route will be about two miles long.
But a lot of work has gone into the short parade, according to Rosenberg.
“It’s a huge logistical event,” he said. “It’s like planning a Super Bowl or something along those lines. You’re talking thousands of bike riders, hundreds of lead riders, dozens of volunteers-- there’s many moving parts.”
To officially break the record, the parade should not only have more than 3,515 cyclists, but also needs to follow the rules set by Guinness. Bicycles in the parade should only be two-wheeled and powered by people, they should be moving over a distance of at least two miles from start to finish and they cannot be more than two bike lengths apart. In order to be counted, all riders must bike the entire parade and must give their names, telephone numbers, and the make and model of their bikes. With all these rules and regulations, the Odd Fellows have a lot of work ahead of them.
“We’re going to give it a shot, but it won’t be easy,” Rosenberg said. “The rules are pretty strict in terms of how you do this thing.”
Win or lose, the group plans to celebrate its efforts immediately following the parade with a festival in Central Park. Davis firefighters will hold a barbecue with hot dogs, hamburgers and veggie burgers and a beer and wine garden will help refresh adult riders. Children can enjoy the Tour de Fun, complete with an inflatable obstacle course, a bounce house, face painting, pony rides, bicycle-propelled carousel and inflatable batting cages. Souvenirs will be sold at the event, and the Odd Fellows are currently working on scheduling live entertainment for the festivities.
“Wherever people live in Northern California, I suggest this will be a fun day for them either to come by the parade and be a part of it and a part of the world record, or simply come to the family fun festival afterwards,” Rosenberg said. “It’s just good old-fashioned fun.”
The Odd Fellows hope to have registration for the parade available in a couple of weeks. For more information, visit http://www.worldsgreatestbicycleparade.com/.