World Record Q

[the world record breaking Q formation]
Photo by Bernard Clark

As university community members started planning the celebrations for Queen’s 175th anniversary year, they decided to do something bigger than anyone had ever done before. The result? On Sept. 6, 2016, thousands of people gathered together on Nixon Field to break the Guinness World Record for the largest human letter.

The event took its inspiration from a photo found in the university’s archives. Taken by Jack Chiang from the Kingston Whig-Standard, it depicts more than 100 football players on Richardson Stadium field in the rough shape of a Q. The athletes were about to start their two-week training camp in August of 1985 and wanted to show off their school spirit. Now, 31 years later, students, staff, faculty, alumni and members of the community came out to restage at the photo, but this time, much bigger.

Beating the record would be no mean feat. The previous holder, Dell Technologies in Texas, had gathered together 2,166 people for their record. Queen’s was intent on not just beating that number, but also surpassing it. After checking the capacity of Nixon Field, and mapping out the shape of the Q, organizers put out the call for people in the community to participate.

The community responded. On a sunny afternoon on Sept. 6, 2016, 3,373 people donned yellow T-shirts and gathered together on the field as a Guinness official confirmed the tally. Their numbers pushed the circumference of the Q to an impressive 140 metres, smashing the previous record by more than 1,200 people.