It’s official: The New Jersey Lion’s Club yesterday broke the record for the “longest chain of spectacles” ever created by laying down 43,000 feet of eyeglasses on 2,000 pieces of carboard in Liberty State Park. Club members from all over the state were in attendance, having prepared for six months to collect the glasses, tie them together with rubber bands, and label them with their degree of magnification. Decked out in yellow club T-shirts, they were nervous, and they were proud.
“If we meet the 100,000, it’s going to be a record for a long time,” said Allentown Lion’s Club member Al Mottola. The previous record had been set by a club in Japan, which had arrayed a mere 16,000 spectacles. The New Jerseyan’s chain would measure approximately eight miles were the glasses arranged in one row.
Mottola and his fellow Lions (and “Leos” as the younger members of the organization are called) were also proud of the work that had gone into the event. “The project was visualized over six months ago,” Mottola said, “and then we had to go to Lion’s Club International to get funding.”
New Jersey is home to roughly 4,000 Lions legions of whom had spent weeks soliciting donations from a range of sources (with Walmart proving to be the project’s biggest benefactor). Their months of work would be in vain if they took more than two-hours to complete the feat, the length of time Guinness allotted the volunteers or suffer the disappointment of having the record remain in Japan. Thus, the event had an air of urgency as well.
But the most palpable sentiment this reporter felt upon stumbling over the project (literally) on a brisk walk with her dog was happiness given the humanitarian nature of the project. Once the record was certified, the glasses would head to the New Jersey Lion’s Eyeglass Recycling Center in Trenton where they would get cleaned and then disseminated to people all over the world who need reading glasses and cannot afford or access them. Preventing blindness is just one of several social causes the world’s 1.4 million Lions volunteer for. Founded in 1916, Lion’s Club International is dedicated to preventing hunger, protecting the environment, and helping children with cancer and individuals with diabetes as well.