Largest smiley face set Guinness world record 2011 - Orlando

500 people create smiley face at Amway Center parking garage Smile Orlando. We're in the Guinness Book of World Records.
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Largest smiley face Guinness world record 2011, Most people create smiley face at Amway Center parking garage

Exactly 500 people wearing yellow and black ponchos stood atop the new Amway Center's parking garage this morning and broke the Guinness world record for the largest smiley face.

The previous record of 261 was set earlier this year in Baltimore.

Today's record-breaking event, sponsored by the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, coincided with the opening of the new arena and World Smile Day, a worldwide celebration of Harvey Ball, the artist who created the iconic yellow and black smiley face in 1963.

Also, the CVB's latest marketing campaign is "Orlando Makes Me Smile."

Gary Sain, president and CEO of the Orlando/Orange County CVB, said creating the world's largest smiley face seemed like a natural fit for Orlando, where more than 46 million people come each year to have fun.

"The smile, I believe, is symbolic to Orlando," he said. "That's what Orlando is known for."

By 8 a.m., as Justin Bieber music blared and news helicopters circled above, hundreds gathered on the eighth level of the Amway Center's parking garage.

Clad in a yellow poncho, Orlando resident Kristin Shields was with her 9-year-old twins, Maddie and Griffin Shields, who were excused from Lake Eola Charter School to participate.

"When will you ever have this chance again?" Kristen Shields said. "We wanted to be a part of history."

Both Maddie and Griffin said they were excited about skipping morning classes.

By about 8:30 a.m., organizers asked the crowd to prepare to make the smiley face. One by one, they entered the "smile zone" and found a spot to stand. Those in black ponchos were the eyes, the smile and the outline of the face. The people in yellow ponchos filled in the rest.

More than 65 smiley face volunteers were winners of Orlando's World Smile Search, an international contest where contestants — more than 20,000 in all — submitted online essays about why Orlando makes them smile. Winners were awarded with a four-day trip to Orlando and the chance to be in the smiley face.

Vancouver resident Cassie Silva, 25, won a trip after writing an essay that paid homage to Jiminy Cricket's "When You Wish Upon A Star." Silva, who had never been to Orlando until this week, brought her mom Jacki Silva.

With the smiley face set and a Guinness representative watching from above, the volunteers stood still for 10 minutes — the time needed to become a Guinness world record. From ground level, the group looked like 500 people preparing for a hurricane. From above, it was the world's largest smiley face.

After the 10 minutes were up, Guinness representative Morgan Wilber presented Sain with a plaque commemorating the event.

"It's now official," Sain told the cheering crowd.

Orlando residents Mike Cannington, 32, and his girlfriend Amanda Simon, 26, said it was "hot" wearing the ponchos, but called the experience "amazing."

And now they can brag about being "record holders," they said.

"We sweated it out to be a part of this great day," Cannington said.

Orlando breaks Guinness world record for largest smiley face Video.

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