With 1,223 people participating, the city of Brownsville was officially recognized by Guinness World Records judge Amanda Mochan.
“There’s no words to describe how exciting this is,” Commissioner Rose Gowen said. “It’s a great source of pride to think that the community came together to celebrate something, and that’s very powerful.”
Gowen said participants from cities all over the Rio Grande Valley joined to Zumba-dance Saturday.
Mochan said this is a new record category with a minimum Guinness requirement of 250 participants.
Saturday a group in Glasgow, Scotland, was expected give Brownsville competition, city officials said.
Mochan said that group did not have a judge present at their event. So, she said, the group will send in a documentation packet to Guinness World Records for evaluation. It will take several weeks to determine whether the Scottish class will set the record, she said.
“One of the best parts of my job is to see the energy and the passion people put in,” Mochan said. “Especially with this record today, I could see that people were really into it and excited.”
As things stand now, Brownsville is on top when it comes to having the largest Zumba class ever.
Participants and sponsors acknowledged the world record attempt was a way to foster collective community pride and support healthy habits in Brownsville, where the rates of diabetes and obesity outpace the national average.
The event was one of the final activities for Brownsville’s Biggest Loser challenge.
One in three Brownsville residents are diabetic, Gowen said to the crowd.
Awareness and excitement about good health is a must with such statistics, she said.
“To raise that excitement, we decided that breaking a world record is the biggest thing we could do,” Gowen said.
High winds didn’t keep participants at home.
Florestela Benavides, 85, and her husband Arturo Benavides, 88, were set to join the giant Zumba aerobic fitness program Saturday to act as role models said.
After the class, she flashed two thumbs up with a smile, saying “So far so good. ... I made it!”
The attempt was not without rules.
Participants were not to stop moving for more than two minutes. If they did they were disqualified and their participant wristband was taken.
Spotters were set throughout the crowd to turn in confiscated wristbands to the Guinness judge for counting.
Another Guinness record was set once in Brownsville, but it no longer stands.
In 2007, a group of University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College students held the world’s longest marathon reading lasting 140 hours and two minutes, according to Mochan.
Hosting the world’s largest Zumba class is just the beginning for Brownsville, Surya Raguthun said as a sponsor observing the event Saturday.
“It’s wonderful. It’s exciting,” he said. “We have lots more potential than that. We could probably bring up to 5,000 people.”