Jonnie Penn, one of the cast members of “The Buried Life,” described the group’s inspiration to set this particular record.
“We wanted to do something that other people could get involved in and everyone wants to fall in love and USF wants to party, so naturally it all kind of just came together,” Jonnie said. “We put a competition out and USF was like nuts!”
Sponsored by Verizon Wireless and USF’s Center for Student Involvement, this “Be There To Make History” event was packed with activities. There were food carts offering cupcakes, BBQ and Mexican, along with the Verizon booth and some local radio stations providing prizes for those who participated in games.
Rows and rows of chairs lined the grass of the MLK Plaza and participants took their seats, eager for the speed dating to commence.
Each individual had to spend three minutes talking with each person before rotating to the left and had to “date” 20 people in this manner. Sticking to “The Buried Life” theme, the topic of discussion had to be: What do you want to do before you die?
Students expressed their desire to do everything from travel, skydive, publish a book, become fluent in other languages, join the Peace Corps and even live alone on top of a mountain.
Around 1 p.m., Philip Robertson, the adjudicator for Guinness World Records, blew the air horn, signifying the dates to begin.
It was hard to tell if love was in the air or if it was just the 85 degree heat making everyone woozy.
About an hour later, but only ten dates in, and participants were getting restless. They were hot and they were sweaty…but most of all they had to get to class. Over fifty people ditched their dates and left.
So strategically, free cupcakes were provided to all who stayed.
Finally the time came for the last date. At the end of the three minutes, everyone stood and cheered because the goal had been achieved!
Robertson presented “The Buried Life” men with a large picture frame, the paper inside declaring that they, along with the University of South Florida, were now the record holders for largest speed mixer ever, 288 speed daters to be exact.
The buzz of the record setting carried on long after the final date. Students were pumped to have been a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I thought it was absolutely chaotic, absolutely fantastic,” said Daniel Malk, a senior studying public health.
“I did not realize how hot it was going to be, but it was a lot of fun; I met 20 new people!” said Ali Beck, a freshman majoring in long term care administration.
Even “The Buried Life” cast member, Duncan Penn, was stoked by the experience.
“It was amazing, it was good being here; you guys are awesome,” Duncan said. “It was great, break a Guinness record has been on our list since the very beginning and we got to set one today.”
So the goal was accomplished but did anyone actually find love?
“No, didn’t even come close,” said Michael Tully, a graduated marketing student that came back to campus specifically to be a part of the record.
“I wouldn’t say I found true love, no,” said Brandon Laurent, a freshman in international studies. “But I would say I gained insight on how to live life for today and not tomorrow.”
Thankfully, Duncan seemed to have better luck in the love department.
“Of course! I found a few actually, like 30!”