Nearly 2,000 people played catch on Sunday in the South Barrington suburb of Chicago, which set a new Guinness World Record. Photo courtesy of Willow Creek Community Church
June 20 (UPI) -- A Chicago suburb broke the Guinness World Record for the largest game of catch played during a Father's Day event in which about 2,000 people participated.
The idea of fatherhood and playing catch is as iconic in America's cultural heritage as a dad enjoying a burger with a beer in the patio, or as notorious as a dad receiving ties as gifts on Father's Day.
In South Barrington on Sunday, 972 pairs of people played catch on a pleasant day at the Willow Creek Community Church as part of the "DadFest" annual festival.
The participants broke the previous record of 1,058 people, or 529 pairs -- all of whom were Major League Baseball fans -- who played catch on July 9, 2015, in Cincinnati.
"Here at Willow Creek, they're doing something pretty cool on Father's Day, which is bringing fathers and children together to play catch, to celebrate fatherhood on a day that's really important to the church," Guinness World Records official Philip Robertson, who verified the successful attempt, said.
For the attempt to be successful, participants had to register and play catch for five continuous minutes in select areas outside of the church. The pairs had to stand nine feet apart and could not deviate from their positions to avoid disqualification.
The new record follows the Chicago Cub's 2016 World Series victory -- a championship 108 years in the making.
"Major League Baseball would like to congratulate the Willow Creek Community Church in setting a new Guinness World Record for the largest game of catch," MLB spokesman Matt Bourne said. "We encourage everyone to play ball and look forward to seeing who can break the record next."