Confessions' of a Free Spirit

MCG in a sea of bubbles

By Alison Brennan

On Saturday January 6th there was a Guinness World Record attempt at the MCG and I was fortunate enough to play a part in it. The record we were attempting to break was for the most amount of people blowing bubbles simultaneously for one minute. The reason behind this was to educate and inform as many people as possible about the dangers of using balloons outdoors.

The brainchild of Zoos Victoria, the message being promoted was "When balloons fly, seabirds die. Blow bubbles not balloons." According to Zoos Victoria CEO Jenny Gray, an alarming amount of birds, particularly around the Norfolk Island area where a study was based, showed up with balloon debris in their stomach. This couldn't be properly digested by the birds and as a result, caused their death. Blowing bubbles is an environmentally friendly alternative to releasing balloons.

The MCG was chosen as the venue because of its large crowd capacity. As there was a scheduled  BBL match between the two Melbourne teams, we were hoping for a bumper crowd. Both the Stars and the Renegades were very supportive of the cause.

But before the cricket there was a lot of planning that had to be done. I, along with a few hundred other people, answered a call to volunteer at this event. My reason for doing this was to help make a difference by educating others. We gathered at the Pullman Hotel in Jolimont in the late afternoon. We were a large group of strangers brought together by a common cause. Nervous laughter echoed around the lobby as we queued for our t-shirts, hats and supplies. This was getting real. We were directed into the conference room where we were given a briefing from the officiating officer who would be adjudicating the attempt. Peter Fairbain is a Registered Official for Guinness who travels the world judging record attempts. Amongst our supplies were papers to fill in. There, in the top right hand corner was the Guinness World Records logo stamped with the words "official attempt."  They were authentic. Wow, I was now an Official Steward!

The Zoos Victoria staff did a fantastic job with logistics. Everyone was given the name of an animal species and put into groups accordingly. There was a dozen or so groups in all. I was a frog. All the volunteers walked across in their groups in intervals to the MCG.

Once inside we found our designated rows. Mine was right down the front by the fence and I could see the players close by warming up on the ground. The crowd was starting to buzz with excitement. Our job now was to explain to the patrons in our rows what we were doing, hand out the bottles of bubble mix and encourage everyone to join in the fun.

At 6:50pm an announcement came over the loud speaker and our world record attempt was under way. I watched with excitement and pride as the people in my rows enthusiastically blew their bubbles. I wondered if the other stewards were experiencing the same emotions. I counted and re-counted each person to make sure I had my figures exactly right. Then it was over. I filled out my numbers and signed the form. My job as an Official Guinness Steward was complete. Now it was time to relax and enjoy the game.

It was just after the half time innings break when the announcement was made....we hadn't broken the record. We had fallen short by approximately 11,000 people. A brief sigh of disappointment could be heard around the G. It seemed everyone had wanted to be a part of something big, even though they might not have known about it when they first arrived. 

However, it wasn't all bad news. There was just over 48,000 people at the MCG this particular night and the hope is that they all took the message home to their family and friends: "blow bubbles, not balloons."