Tokyo, Japan currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most people whistling simultaneously in a single venue -- 329 people in a mall -- but that record may have been officially shattered on Friday, May 27.
In Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
set his sights on three goals Friday afternoon: honor area veterans, collect donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and break a Guinness World Record.
But why would an 8th grader set such a lofty goal -- a goal that could possibly put Nazareth in the record books?
The answer: He wanted to raise enough money -- $3,400, to be exact -- to grant the wish of a student who attends .
With that goal in mind, Ohrwashel, a student officer for Make-A-Wish Club, and his mother, Monique Ohrwashel, the club’s advisor, rallied the troops -- literally and figuratively.
But first, how did Ohrwashel and his mom choose to attempt to break the whistling record?
“I like to whistle,” Ohrwashel said.
In fact, he likes to whistle so much that he drives his family crazy at times, his mother jokingly said.
With his goals in mind, Ohrwashel brought his idea to Robert Kern, the middle school’s principal. Kern immediately thought the experience would be a positive memory that the students would always keep with them.
“I thought it was unique, different and something the school could do together,” Kern said. “It’s something documented, [so] they can remember [this] for the rest of their lives.”
With Kern’s stamp of approval, about 750 students from Nazareth’s middle school would lend their lips and attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people whistling simultaneously in a single venue -- the high school’s Andrew S. Leh Stadium.
After months of preparation, Ohrwashel and members of the Make-A-Wish Club were ready.
On Friday afternoon, students from Nazareth Area High School turned on their , and photographers were at the ready -- they would document the event and send their videos and photos to Guinness World Records Limited, which is stationed in London, for validation purposes.
In addition, the 11 official witnesses of the event, including Upper Nazareth Township’s chief of police and the chairman of Upper Nazareth’s Board of Supervisors, were present.
It was go time.
Shortly after 1 p.m., all you could hear inside the Andrew S. Leh Stadium were hundreds of students, faculty, staff and veterans whistling “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.”
Members of the Nazareth High wind ensemble softly accompanied the whistlers, as did the wind whistling through nearby trees.
Amidst a severe thunderstorm watch, but sunny skies still above, the whistlers whistled for a total time of 6:47.59. And there were no breaks. One of the rules set by Guinness was that the whistlers could not take a break longer than 10 seconds.
When they finished, students cheered and gave a standing ovation to several veterans who attended the event.
“You guys were awesome,” Kern said. “This is what makes me proud to be the principal.”
According to Ohrwashel, the Make-A-Wish Club has already raised about $1,400 toward the wish for the high school student, but that’s not counting donations from the record-breaking event. To participate, each student was asked to donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Ohrwashel hopes the club will be much closer to having the final $2,000 needed to fund the wish.
For several years, Ohrwashel has been working with his sister, , to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation through an annual book drive.
But before Ohrwashel graduated to the high school level, he first wanted to do something special before leaving the middle school.
“I think that it’s great that kids care about other things than themselves,” said Sylvia Ohrwashel, the boy's grandmother who watched the event unfold from the bleachers.
The next step? Ohrwashel must send all of the proper documentation of the event to Guinness World Records Limited in London for review. It should take Ohrwashel about two weeks to find out if the students broke the world record.