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Guinness confirms Sanibel Stoop record

By Staff | Nov 2, 2012

The message was delivered in a letter to the Sanibel Community House last week confirming that the assembly of islanders and visitors doing the Sanibel Stoop at Bowman’s Beach in February had been accepted as an official record.

“We are pleased to welcome you to the very select club of Guinness World Records title holders.”

The record attempt was staged by the Sanibel Community Association (SCA), which operates the Sanibel Community House, as part of the celebration surrounding the 75th anniversary of the Sanibel Shell Show & Fair.

The Community House has been the longtime home of the Shell Show and Fair, which was first hosted in the 1920s by Hallie “Granny” Matthews in the lobby of the Matthews hotel on the beach. Over the years, the Shell Show & Fair has grown to become one of the world’s most prominent events in the shell collecting world.

The official tally of “stoopers” registered and confirmed for the event was 478, although more than an additional 300 unregistered participants were also observed to be on hand. The record set was for the category of “Largest Treasure Hunt Game.” To be counted officially a participant had to identify themselves, sign in, and participate in a treasure hunt for shells on the beach.

Official participants at the event received a commemorative event T-shirt sponsored by Congress Jewelers,. Now that the record is official, the Community House has plans to create a new T-shirt proclaiming Sanibel’s championship status.

A diverse group of island organizations and individuals supported and assisted the effort, which was captured by news cameras and succeeded in attracting significant national media attention. The Lee County Visitors & Convention Bureau promoted the event and provided a helicopter for filming.

“We wanted to do something special to call attention to the 75th anniversary of the Shell Show & Fair, and to reinforce Sanibel’s position as a special place for shelling,” said Marge Meek, Sanibel Community Association president. “The Guinness Record attempt captured the idea that hunting for shells can be a lot of fun, and there’s no better place than Sanibel to do that.”