London commuters likely rubbed their eyes on the way to work this morning watching 50 people trying to wriggle into an oversized pair of underpants at the city docks, and folks in Dublin did a double-take seeing 262 costumed Leprechauns file into a theater.
While onlookers might be forgiven for thinking the calendar had flipped forward to April Fool’s Day, the underwear stuffers and charmed Irish elves were part of a contingent 300,000 strong around the globe competing to make history and gain entry into the world’s most famed record book on the 7th annual Guinness World Records Day.Slideshow: Guinness World Records 2012 (on this page)
The Guinness World Records is itself a record breaker: The best-selling copyrighted book in the world, it gets some 1,000 applications a week to make the mark in the 40,000 world record categories Guinness recognizes.
But each year, Guinness goes for broke in encouraging worldwide record-breaking in a 24-hour period — which makes for some unusual sights. Guinness editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday said at least half the fun is letting the everyman take a shot at immortality.Story: Two-faced cat sets record as oldest living 'Janus' cat
“You don’t need to have a unique talent or possess super skills to take part in a world record attempt,” he said. “That’s the spirit of Guinness World Records Day — getting involved and having some fun.
“There are so many record attempts going on around the world on this one day that people won’t have to look far for some first-hand recording breaking excitement.”
Indeed, the records shattered on Guinness World Records Day spanned the globe: in Bologna, Italy, Micro Della Vecchia made a 15-meter long, 15,000 pound chocolate bar, while students in Mulhouse France fashioned a 15-foot-tall rag doll. In Australia, the largest group of ABBA impersonators ever assembled made their mark in history, while in China, 800 singles grouped to form the world’s largest speed-dating event.
The Guinness World Records began in 1954 as a give-away book placed in local pubs to settle bar bets and promote Guinness Breweries’ products, but when it became commercially available, it quickly rose to the top of best-seller lists.Slideshow: Guinness World Records 2011 (on this page)
Along the way, the records listed in the book veered from the standard to the wacky. Trivia buffs looking for who is the world fastest human (Usain Bolt) or who has won the most Oscars (Walt Disney), won’t find that info in the Guinness book — but they can find the most kites ever flown simultaneously (10,465 in Weifang City, China) or the most dogs gathered in costume (426 in Florida).
Some of the records set Thursday can warm the heart. Bernice Mary Bates of Pinellas Park, Fla., had her name added to the Guinness World Records Thursday in being recognized as the oldest yoga instructor in the world. A sprightly 91 years old, Bates began teaching yoga back in 1960, when most Americans couldn’t tell yoga from yogurt.
But showing how keen the competition is to get into Guinness World Records, Bates had to prove her age — and just barely edged out yoga instructor Gladys Morris of Royston, England, who is just a few months younger.Slideshow: Guinness World Records 2010 (on this page)
Other U.S. Guinness winners recognized Thursday included the largest hula hoop workout, done by 221 students in New Port Richey, Fla., and the largest Soul Train dance, performed by 211 dancers in Berkeley, Cal.
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints