December 10, 2011

Courtesy MJ Dillingham

Stacie Biddle is taking part in an effort to set a record for “the most ugly holiday sweaters worn in one place at one time.” Admission to Sunday’s event in Wells will benefit Goodwill.

Making ugly look good for the holidays

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

Ugly holiday-sweater parties have been popping up all over the place in the last few years.

But MJ Dillingham didn't want to throw just another ugly-sweater party. She wanted something with a little more substance, an event that would have all the fun and kitsch of an ugly-sweater party, yet make a larger impact somehow.

So Dillingham, a professional event planner, decided to stage an attempt to create a Guinness World Record for "the most ugly holiday sweaters worn in one place at one time."

The event will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Wells Corner Shopping Center on Route 1 in Wells.

"I thought about doing something different with an ugly-sweater contest, ramping it up, and I thought there probably wasn't a Guinness record yet," said Dillingham, of Maine Events by Design.

She contacted the Guinness folks and was told she was right.

Sunday's record attempt event will feature live music, giveaways of concert tickets and restaurant gift certificates, and prizes for the ugliest sweaters on site.

First prize is a 42-inch plasma TV and the chance to ride in the WBLM van during the Southern Maine Christmas Parade in Wells at 2 p.m.

Other prizes include "The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book" and a $100 gift card to Goodwill stores.

"We're looking at this as a great opportunity to get our ugly on," said Brett Williams, promotions director for Portland radio station WBLM, a partner in the event.

People are asked to show up beginning at 10 a.m. wearing their favorite ugly sweater -- something that's too loud or too busy to be worn at any other time of year. They will be asked to fill out an informational sheet and have their picture taken, so their presence at the event can be verified to the Guinness folks.

Registration costs $5, with the money benefiting Goodwill. People will have until 11:30 a.m. to register.

Later in the day, the ugly sweaters will be judged, a winner will be announced around 1 p.m., then everyone will begin getting ready to march in the holiday parade at 2 p.m.

Dillingham got the idea after being asked by the shopping center to come up with a holiday event. She said she was driving past a Goodwill store, which made her think about doing something to benefit Goodwill. She knows that many people donate ugly sweaters to, or buy ugly sweaters from, Goodwill. So the event began to take shape in her mind.

Even if the event gets a huge number of people, there is no guarantee that Guinness will recognize an ugly-sweater record.

Dillingham said she has to compile all of the information and pictures from the event, then submit it with an application to the Guinness World Records office.

She'll find out a month or two later what Guinness has decided -- record or no record.

"Even if we don't get a record, she said, "trying will be a lot of fun."

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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