This morning I had the pleasure of attending another fun and slightly "weird" Austin event involving local restaurant, Mangia Pizza's attempt to break the Guinness Book of Records, "Longest line of pizzas in the world". Along with my wife, Margaret and daughter Mattie we headed to Zilker Park to hopefully be a part of history. The event was held in conjunction with Meals on Wheels and More to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mangia Pizza opening for business here in Austin, Texas. If successful, the company would break a world record and after the event, Meals on Wheels would deliver the pizzas to The Salvation Army to feed the homeless!
On Wednesday of this week, I received an email from one of my best pals in the world who is kind of a Big-Shot with the Mangia Pizza Organization, Rell Rice, yes, it'sRell as in well or bell.He tells me that day is "Guinness Book of Records Day" and all over the world different groups and individuals are vying to break any number of Guinness records but Mangia is looking at in in particular. A group in Italy and another in London are planning to break the record of longest uninterrupted line of pizzas.
In typical "Texas Hold-Em Poker" style, Mangia scheduled their event three days later to take place on Saturday and possibly upset the recent winners! Later that day, word is out that Chicago Town Pizzas in Camden Lock, London, UK set the new record of 936 feet 7 inches so Mangia has a big challenge ahead!
Mangia Pizza coordinated this event with Meals on Wheels and More of Austin so that as soon as the contest was concluded, all of the surviving pizza's (those not dropped or blown away by the windy morning) were immediately re-boxed and delivered by the Meals on Wheels volunteers who are also on hand to help with the event and hopefully break the record! Everything went well in spite of all sorts of odd circumstances . Try and imagine setting up a chain of tables in the shape of a large abstract "M" covering them with over a thousand feet of paper, having all of the volunteers wash hands and put on plastic gloves for sanitation and distributing hundreds of boxes of cheese and pepperoni pizzas down the line of tables to prepare for the start?!?
At a signal from Rell Rice and our friend Leslye Denton-Garcia along with owners Mark Negro and Jeff Sayers, the volunteers distributed the pizzas down the row of table, opened and lined them up edge to edge and did their best to keep everything on order despite gusting winds that sent a few of the pies flying. Reserves were brought in to fill holes and the line slowly extended.
Danny Girton Jr., the Official Adjudicator for the Guinness Book of World Records carefully documented the measuring by an independent official using a single wheel device to measure the length of the pizza chain from beginning to end. Mr. Gurtin was the same official who was on hand to document the pizza line efforts in Italy and London earlier in the week, so you understand that although fun, Guinness World Records takes its business very seriously!
As the officials slowly made their way down the tables carefully following the measurement team and confirming that each pizza was actually touching, the man would shout out, 700 feet, 750 feet, 800 feet... volunteers are hustling to fill in the gaps of pizzas blown off the line by gusting winds and steadily adding more to the line at the end. The man shouts, 800 feet, 850 feet...900 feet! A group comes running down the hill with another 30 pizzas to add to the line but will it be enough?? 950 feet, he shouts and a roar goes up from the volunteers as the record is broken but he moves on...1,000 feet and the crowd goes wild and sill he moves on until we finally hear 1,023 FEET! Everyone breaks in to applause and cheering up and down the long line of pizzas again proving that we do things big here in Texas.
The crowd begins breaking down the tables, gathering up and re-boxing the pizzas and meets at the start for a group picture and a ceremony. More hot pizzas are delivered and slices are handed out to the crowd as we join a large group photo taken to commemorate the event! (My daughter tells us to stand near the Mangia Dinosaur so we can find ourselves in the crowd). City Councilman, Lee Leffingwell is on hand to read a proclamation from Mayor Will Wynn of Austin, declaring that, in honor of breaking the world record and to celebrate 20 years of being a truly Austin original, November 15th will now be recognized as "Mangia Pizza Day" in Austin Texas!
By the way, I also want to give a shout out to my very good friend Rell Rice! We have had more fun together over the years than we could ever expect...and live to tell about it! Thanks Rell! And Happy 20th Anniversary Mangia Pizza! Here's to twenty more great years from an Austin Texas Original! I have to tell you that we are all truly living the good life in Austin, Texas!
UPDATE: Mangia Pizza has a great article about the Record breaking event and were kind enough to add a link to my blog on the website: Mangia Pizza Website Announcement