Salvation Army bell ringers compete for 80-hour world record
A few dedicated Salvation Army bell ringers set out to break an impressive record this week: ringing their bells for over 80 continuous hours.
On Tuesday at 11 a.m. Central Time, six bell ringers around the country embarked on a marathon bell ringing shift as part of the third annual World Bell Ringing Contest.
The rules are strict: competitors are only allowed a five-minute break every hour (those five minute breaks can be accumulated and cashed in for longer breaks every few hours). Otherwise, they must stand by their red kettle and continually ring their bell. If they make it past 7 p.m. Friday evening, they’ll break last year’s impressive 80-hour record.
As of Wednesday evening, three competitors had already dropped out, leaving Major Marcelino “Butch” Soriano of San Diego, Calif., Andre Thompson of Tyler, Tex., and Captain Jim Brickson of Albert Lea, Minn. to vie for the top prize.
Brickson, who as of Thursday morning has been standing and ringing his bell for over 48 hours at a local mall, revealed some of his coping mechanisms.
“We’re putting up a 50-inch flat-screen TV so I can watch movies in the middle of the night,” he told his local Salvation Army chapter. “I’ve got sound-deadening headphones so I won’t have to hear ding, ding, ding all 80 hours. And there will be at least two volunteers there all the time to keep me company and verify that I never stop bell ringing.”
He has some practice staying awake for long periods of time, he added.
“I’ve had sleep deprivation training—I’m a retired U.S. Navy machinist mate and a retired railroad engineer,” he said. “Back then, 30 hours at a crack was nothing…but we did get to sit down. I think the last 20 hours will be the toughest. If I can’t do it, I’ll throw in the towel – I’m not that stubborn.”
Brickson says he hopes to raise at least $24,000 during his impressive effort, around 10 percent of his local chapter’s $255,000 goal.
Watch a live stream below of Capt. Brickson ringing his bell and click here to donate to donate online to the Salvation Army.