Mackie’s record harmonica effort documented for Guinness world records

SEATTLE — Harmonious harmonicas — up to 1,706 of them — helped land Quilcene music man Andy Mackie in the Guinness Book of Records over the weekend.

“It was so special. It almost brought me to tears, just looking out there and looking at all those people,” a tired Mackie said Monday afternoon.

“It was watching all these families coming to the tent and the entire family learning how to play and walking away, promising to teach someone else.”

So moving was the event for Mackie, he vows to return to Seattle’s Northwest Folklife Festival in 2006.

“I hope to come back next year and go for 5,000,” he said.

Sunday’s record was set from the Folklife’s Fisher Green Stage at the Seattle Center. It topped the former record of 851 harmonicas in unison set in Poland.

Mackie supplied 2,000 Hohner harmonicas to participants of all ages who crowded around the 66-year-old East Jefferson County cowboy to help make harmonica history.

The goal was to form the biggest harmonica band and play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as long as possible.

They came in at 13 minutes, 22 seconds.

“I actually could have went longer, except they needed the stage,” Mackie joked.

The band only needed to play continuously for five minutes to qualify for the record.

3,000 gather

About 3,000 people of all ages gathered to be part of a record-smashing event.

Although the event’s organizer, Port Townsend resident Robert Force, meticulously documented and enlisted videographers to record the event, the final decision rests with Guinness, the publisher of the seminal book of world records.

“I really knew we’d break the record, but I didn’t expect to double it,” Mackie said with a chuckle.

The experience gave him the opportunity of meeting people from all over, even receiving an invitation to teach students in Nepal.

“I physically can’t go over there. The altitude would be too much,” said Mackie, adding that instead he wants Force, a music educator with Washington State University’s Jefferson County extension, to take the trip.

Force on Monday said he documented the event as close to Guinness specifications as possible, even bringing in Dr. Niels Andersen as the official “invigilator.”

Andersen kept track of the event’s time and acted as an observer.

“He will write a letter (to Guinness) with his impeccable scientific background,” said Force, to document his observations of the harmonica event.

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