Students Try for Reel Big Record 

Robin Lownsbury, a physical education teacher at Tuckahoe, had figured that teaching her first- through fifth-graders the Virginia Reel would be a perfect way to tie the theme and the event together. A record attempt seemed a great way to make it fun.

So she submitted the idea to Guinness World Records' headquarters in London. A Scottish group from Toronto gathered 512 people to dance a Scottish dance at the same time. Lownsbury is sure she'll have more than that. Once she's tallied the numbers, she'll send them to Guinness and wait for a record to be granted.

At least 500 kids are lined up and ready to dance — some fidgeting, some still. Partners face off; sets of 10 and 12 form.

Shrills from kids' voices sound as if a million birds are chirping.

In order for the record to be official, Lownsbury had to find people of "some social standing" to observe the event and verify it happened. As luck would have it, she found five, including Bernie Henderson, deputy secretary of the commonwealth. All five are here.

The American flag is presented and raised. So are colored flags that represent teams. The national anthem is sung. Then the kids with the flags run with them around the blacktop. The green flag gets caught in the fence, as does the yellow. Laughter erupts.

At last the dance begins. Proud-looking parents perch themselves anywhere they can to see. Most wear sunglasses and carry cameras.

Instantly, the familiar square-dance music stirs clapping from the spectators.

The entire blacktop moves in a kind of spasmodic color-coated unison.

"Raise the arch. Raise it high. Everybody forward and everybody back. Right elbow; left elbow. Two-hand swing and around you go. Everybody do si do."

Five hundred fifty-eight teachers and kids dance the Virginia Reel today. One parent puts it precisely: "I've never seen anything like this in my life!"

— Brandon Walters



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • Museum Makeovers

    Museum Makeovers

    How four Richmond museums are being transformed.
    • Jul 20, 2021
  • To Have and To Hold

    To Have and To Hold

    Wrestling returns to Richmond with UEW’s ‘Resurrection.’
    • Jul 20, 2021
  • Deep Dive

    Deep Dive

    A writer attempts to find the best dive bars in town.
    • Jul 13, 2021
  • Community Disrupted

    Community Disrupted

    Catching up with former residents of Camp Cathy and the mother figure still helping them survive.
    • Jul 6, 2021
  • More »

Copyright © 2021 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation