Walkway Over the Hudson seeks to break another Guinness record in Poughkeepsie

Organizers of Walkway Over the Hudson group do

Organizers of Walkway Over the Hudson group do a little dance step to announce the group will attempt on May 4, 2013, to break the Guinness Book of World Records for longest chorus line. Participants will receive I Love New York T-shirts. (February 2013) (Credit: Tim Middlebrook)

The nonprofit group Walkway Over the Hudson is a looking for few good people to make some history. About 3,000 should do the trick.

The group will try Saturday to establish a new Guinness World Record for the most people in a chorus line, doing a simple dance step to the tune of "I Love New York" across the 1.28 mile-walkway over the Hudson River between Poughkeepsie and Highland Park.

The event coincides with New York State's "I Love My Park Day," and aside from attracting visitors to the picturesque, Mid-Hudson Valley region, it will give participants a chance to shatter the previous record, set in 2004 in Long Beach, Calif., when 1,628 people danced to the song "Because We Sing."

Last year, Walkway Over the Hudson broke the Guinness record for the world's longest line of dancers -- 2,569 of them -- who sashayed across the span doing the "Hokey Pokey" to raise money for new park amenities, completion of the new 21-story waterfront elevator and visitors center and providing volunteer tour guides, greeters and park support staff.

This year's happening will be one of Walkway's two primary fundraising events this year -- the main fundraiser is an annual dinner benefit that takes place under a tent Oct. 4 at Highland's western approach to the Walkway. Guinness uses local, independent observers, organizers said.

"It's all for a great cause and for the Hudson Valley, so come early and be prepared to have fun," said Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart, executive director of the Walkway on Hudson. In addition to free I Love NY T-shirts, Waldstein-Hart said all participants will also receive a backpack filled with coupons from local sponsors, which include businesses and tourism groups from Dutchess and Ulster Counties.

Acclaimed Hudson Valley choreographer Livia Vanaver, co-founder of the Vanaver Caravan dance troupe in Rosendale, choreographed a simple routine to be performed to the iconic "I Love New York" tune that has become the centerpiece of New York State's tourism promotional campaigns.

"This is just a very simple chorus line, really. Just three steps that anybody can do," Vanaver said. She explained that the routine is not about participants being "perfect," but they must stay connected during the walk. All joining the event will step out with hands on one another's back to qualify for the record. Because participants will be dancing from either side of the Walkway, the whole routine should take about 30 minutes and meet in the middle of the span.

Of course then, there is the trip back to the starting point. "It's not like you'll lose points for missing a step, but, as I like to say, 'If you can walk, you can dance,' and this is simple and something everyone can get into," Vanaver said.

Participants should register online to avoid a backup for the start of the event. In-person registration is also available at either end of the walkway from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Participants are urged to arrive early to secure their place in line. A rain date will be announced, but only if extremely severe weather forces closure of the walkway.

The world record bid will be broadcast live May 4 on Cumulus Broadcasting's WEOK (1390 AM). As with last year's world record, Walkway volunteers and participants are asked to bring radios and tune in to WEOK, which will help broadcast the "I Love New York" song simultaneously along the entire mile-long chorus line. A special note for iPhone users, though: iPhones will not work because the signal is delayed and will not be in sync with WEOK's broadcast.

Opened on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009, the Walkway Over the Hudson was created by refurbishing a 124-year old former steel railroad trestle bridge. Perched 212 feet above the Hudson River, it is the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. The park is managed and maintained by the New York State Parks' Taconic Region and attracts more than 740,000 visitors a year.

IF YOU GO

What: Walkway Over The Hudson State Park, 87 Haviland Rd., Highland; 845-454-9649

When: Saturday, May 4. Check in at either walkway entrance (Highland or Poughkeepsie) between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Record attempt begins at 11 a.m. rain or shine (unless the weather is severe).

Info: Register online (most preferred to avoid delays) at www.walkway.org; $15 per person; kids 6 and under free (but no strollers allowed); special group rates for 10, 25 or 50 participants also available. Wheelchair-accessible.

Good to know: Wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing. Participants should use bathrooms and eat beforehand. In addition to strollers, no inline skates blades, bicycles or pets are allowed on the walkway for this event.

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