It’s official; the Guinness Book of World Records emailed to confirm that Portland Parks & Recreation‘s Hoyt Arboretum and Treecology NOW OWN the new world record for tree hugging with 951 people simultaneously giving minute-long hugs to the arboretum’s trees last July! Congrats to the nearly 1000 folks who took part!
Amber Lotus staff help create history at the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon.
It was a bright sunny day in July. Hoyt Arboretum and Treecology were hosting an attempt to break the Guiness World Record for the most people simultaneously hugging trees in one place at one time.This fun event, and others like it, are a way to raise awareness of the ancient souls that clean our air and feed our environment. Amber Lotus had donated a box of 2014 Tree Huggers calendars to help raise funds for the Arboretum. It seemed only right that we, as diehard tree huggers, help make history.
Although we intended to arrive by the 2 pm start time, we wound up distracted and delayed by live music and sand sculptures at Pioneer Square. Fortunately, the Arboretum is just a short train ride from downtown Portland. Thus, we casually strolled up to registration around 2:45, just 15 minutes before the grand tree hug. Being among the last arrivals, my companions and I found a large tree to share in the nearby stand of Douglas Fir reserved for the chronically late. We leaned back to wait.
With only five minutes to go, we heard the registration folks announce that we were just 35 people short of achieving the world record. Volunteers ran out in every direction to beg, bully and cajole passersby into joining the effort. We watched in bemusement as people trotted up the path, proving that Portlanders are always willing to help—especially when trees are involved. As each newcomer signed in, the registrars called out numbers: 30, 25, 20. We were down to just 5 people short as 3 pm rolled around.
A tree hugger at the edge of the copse noticed a wedding party being photographed down the hill and shouted to one of the volunteers, who sprinted down the hill towards the party. A few moments later a cheer rose up as the wedding party, official photographer in tow, crested the hill, rushed to registration and signed in to hug a tree.
Now we had enough people but not enough nearby trees. The rules stated that multiple people could share a tree, but that we could not touch each other. So we all squeezed in. Tall people hugged high, short people hugged low. As we rearranged ourselves, more people wandered in to join. Finally, at 6 minutes past the appointed time, the whistle sounded and we all grabbed our trees and hung on. Videographers ran through the forests filming the minute-long simultaneous hug. And then we were done.
Final count? 951 people, handily beating the previous world record of 702 in the UK and just squeaking by an earlier attempt (not yet certified) of 935 tree huggers in Minnesota.
— Aleta Florentin, Production Manager, Amber Lotus Publishing
Other Hugging products by Amber Lotus: