The Guinness World Records in London, England, has confirmed that the Harlan County Ridge Runners, an all-terrain vehicle club of 800, has set a new record for the “longest parade of ATVs.”
The events of June 24 have been entered into the fact-finding agency's records, which will specify that the record was set in Evarts, Kentucky, USA, with 1,138 ATVs in a single parade.
The hometown history-making event well surpassed the previous record of 687 set in Hurley, Wis., last summer.
Preston McLain, president of the Harlan County Ridge Runners, said he recently learned of the group's accomplishment when he received a certified letter, along with a certificate, delivered by FedEx.
“I thought we'd lose about 20 riders, but they counted all 1,138,” McLain said. He, along with other club members and local officials, had to follow a meticulous and lengthy process in preparing for the parade and providing proper documentation from the day.
The parade was filmed at its beginning at the Verda field off KY 38 and its end in Evarts, two miles away, and a number of signatures from officials, including Evarts Chief of Police Lupe Blas, Evarts Mayor Burl Fee and Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop, were required.
It was all a part of a process McLain learned of shortly after plans for the parade got under way in November of last year. And anticipation naturally got the best of McLain the night before the event.
“I looked around and thought, ‘We're not going to make it,'” he said. But as he approached the Verda field slightly before 9 a.m. the following day, he said he breathed a sigh of relief.
“As soon as I saw the field, I knew we had it beat,” he said, recalling the hundreds of ATV enthusiasts from across the country who came out to be a part of the event. It was shortly before noon that the unofficial count of 1,138 came in.
McLain, who was recently appointed by Gov. Ernie Fletcher to the Kentucky Recreational Trails Authority as a representative of eastern Kentucky, said he expected a lengthy verification of documentation by the Guinness World Records from the day's events. What was expected to take a matter of weeks, however, turned into a couple of months.
But that didn't take away from the excitement of learning that the club not only set a record for the parade, but that all 1,138 participants were counted.
McLain said he immediately began to contact various groups via the Internet, publishing public service announcements in local newspapers and distributing flyers about the parade and off-road park at Black Mountain. Visiting ATV enthusiasts helped distribute an estimated 5,000 flyers that also made their way to at least Tennessee, Ohio and Virginia.
With the success the county has already seen in tourism - including an increase that has placed the county in the top five in its region for economic growth and a recent incorporation of several local attractions into the Kentucky Department of Parks - McLain said occupying a world record such as this cannot only improve tourism efforts but can cause them to “explode.”
“We have already tripled the number of riders from last year,” he said, adding that more acreage for the off-road park is being researched.
McLain credits property owners who have leased portions of their land for the off-road park that was once a “combination of strip mine and old logging roads” for the park's success. His club helps maintain the park, which officially opened in June 2005.
“There are so many people