This past Saturday, people all over the country got dressed in green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. But that morning in the Mall of America, located just outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, hundreds of parents, grandparents, and kids were dressed in green for a very different reason: trying to break a Guinness World Record for most people dressed like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
You may have noticed the use of the word “break” in the above sentence. Indeed: the gathering of turtle fans wasn’t meant to set the world record since it had already been held by Rutgers University, where, in 2008, 786 people had dressed in Turtle costumes. But because Nickelodeon is set to debut a brand-new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon this year, and since they had a new Turtles-themed ride to unveil inside the Mall of America’s Nickelodeon World theme park, they decided to try and break the record. With the promise of free t-shirts and bandannas, and passes for the new ride, Shell Shock, the event’s organizers managed to cram a total of 836 folks into one spot for around 20 minutes, more than long enough for Guinness’s official adjudicator, Michael Empric, to declare that the record had been broken.
“It’s crazy,” Empric told me after the new record had been set. “I love to come to events where people have passion for what they’re doing, and everyone here today clearly loves Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was a great turn out.”
It was definitely interesting to see so many people standing around in one place for the sole purpose of breaking a weird record, but since we were all in the mall before it had actually opened for business, there was no question that everyone present was there because of their interest in the turtles. On the other hand, the lack of homemade costumes was pretty disappointing to say the least. I saw one guy wearing a head-to-toe, green spandex suit with a bandanna over his eyes, and another duo with shells made from cardboard, but the majority of the “turtles” were like me–people who’d been handed a free t-shirt.
On the other-other hand: free t-shirt!
I can safely say that there aren’t too many other people with a shirt like mine–probably only 835 others, not counting any extras Nickelodeon World didn’t manage to give away. As far as collectibles go, that’s not too shabby. In addition, while I didn’t go on the ride (it looked like it would probably make me sick), I’m looking forward to seeing the next take on the TMNT franchise. The turtles are near and dear to my heart, being one of the cartoons I watched religiously as a kid. I remember wanting nothing more than a Raphael figure when I was in elementary school, and being super annoyed when my parents brought me a Michelangelo. Clearly the nuances of the turtles’ different personalities were lost on them.
So now we’ve got a new show coming out that looks like it’s moving closer to the franchise’s original, gritty comic book roots. At the same time, Michael Bay is working on a new live-action movie—in which the turtles will now be aliens from space. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, since, you know, they’re not Teenage Alien Mutant Turtles. Hopefully someone will point this out to him in time to get a script rewrite.
All in all, I’m eagerly anticipating a whole new generation of Turtle-themed junk to make its way to store shelves. Lucky for me I’ve got one of the few items you won’t be able to find anywhere…except in Minnesota.