SIDNEY — The legacy of Ralph Stolle helped Shelby County set a Guinness World Record Wednesday morning at Sidney Memorial Stadium. The event was held in conjunction with the county’s bicentennial celebration.
With Guinness World Records adjudicator Michael Empric, of New York City, watching and listening, students and community members from throughout Shelby County set a new record for the number of people opening drink cans simultaneously. When all the popping was done, 2,344 cans were popped. A total of 134 were deducted as the can wasn’t opened in the allotted five seconds, didn’t open or failed for another reason.
The former record was set in 2019 in Japan when 1,204 cans were opened.
“Congratulations to all of you,” said Empric after he announced the total. “Welcome to the Guinness family. You are officially amazing.”
Sixth through 12th grade students from all schools in Shelby County were bused to the stadium to take part in the event. Stewards watched groups of 50 participants and then recorded whether they had successfully opened the cans within the allotted 5 seconds.
Members of Stolle’s family were present for the occasion and helped set the world record.
“This is a really special day,” said granddaughter Cathy Chasteen, of Lebanon. “Driving up here we talked about how Marsha Falknor’s husband Bill worked for our grandfather.
“I’ve been running into people I haven’t seen since we were children,” she said.
Chasteen and Ed Cranmer, of Lebanon, are the children of Sandy, who was Ralph Stolle’s daughter.
“This makes me want to tear up,” said Cranmer.
Granddaughter Amy Winkler, of Lebanon, is the daughter of Mary Jo, who was Ralph’s youngest daughter.
“Mom passed away eight years ago from breast cancer,” she said. “This would have been a special day for her. I’m here for her and grandpa too. I’m very honored to be here.”
Stolle’s great-grandchildren, Adam Cranmer and Megan Cranmer, both of Lebanon, were on hand for the celebration.
“He passed away before I was born,” said Adam. “I’ve heard stories about him from the people who cared about him. I’m happy they are honoring his memory, that doesn’t happen that often.”
Adam said he learned a lot about his great-grandfather through the book, “Ingenuity in a Can.”
“I just remember him as being a great man and knowing him before he passed,” said Megan. “It’s been nice to see everything he created before he passed.”
Megan also added, at the request of her family, that “I was his favorite great-granddaughter.”
After the record was set, Marsha Falknor said, “This was a wonderful event. It was wonderful to be included. My husband Bill worked for their grandfather.”
Stolle Machinery in Sidney closed operations Wednesday morning so their 75 employees could attend the event. Six employees from the Dayton facility also attended.
“This is a lot bigger than I thought it would be,” said Randy Caudill, of Sidney, who has worked for Stolle for 24 years and has been in the can business for 43 years. “I’ve met a lot of people including the Stolle family. I’ll be giving them a tour of the facility.
“All the employees came,” said Caudill. “They shut down the plant so everyone could come,” he said.
Carl Yahle, of Dayton, traveled from the Dayton facility to attend the event.
“This is really incredible,” Yahle said. “I really enjoyed it. It’s been fun to be a part of it.
“This is a change of pace from running the machinery,” he said. “We got to see the cans in action.”
Steve Wagner, who chaired the event, said it was a beautiful day.
“I’m grateful for all the volunteers who helped put this even together,” said Wagner. “Sidney City Schools was tremendous when I asked to use the football stadium for the event.”
Sidney City Schools Superintendent Bob Humble said the district was happy to help in anyway it could.
“I volunteered us right away,” said Humble. “This was very well organized considering the number of kids involved.”
Humble wasn’t able to open his can of water as he was in the pressbox taking photos of Empric which he was watching the event.
The Shelby County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) helped with traffic control at the event. There were 11 members from Shelby and Miami counties on hand to help.
“We planned the traffic route,” said John Probst. “We made sure the buses moved with the maximum safety. We knew how many buses were here and their location. When they arrived, we relayed the information to the gate workers.
“Everything went smoothly,” he said.
Empric travels all over to witness World Record attempts.
“I usually travel once a week,” he said after the event was over. “At various times of the year, I’m traveling a lot.”
Last week Empric was on the “Kelly and Ryan” show in New York where world records were attempted to be set every day on the show.
“That was held in conjunction with the release of our 2020 record book, which was launched last week,” he said.
He said they are contacted all the time about people who do “unique” things.
“It’s not often you see an event like this,” he said. “You have people from the community working closing with what the community is known for (pop tops). Then you bring young people and they all come together. That’s pretty impressive.”
Empric said he’s not allowed to speculate whether an attempt will be successful or not.
“I like the hard numbers,” he said.
Prior to the event, he worked closely with Steve Wagner, who chaired the world record attempt.
“We make sure the organizers know the rules before I arrive,” said Empric. “They know the rules and expectations (of Guinness). I’m strictly here to count and monitor.”
Secretary of State Frank LaRose was in Sidney Wednesday to meet with Board of Elections and other county officials.
“What a cool thing that is. And not only fun to get the students involved and to celebrate the bicentennial but also to celebrate what seems like a real ubiquitous invention, right?,” said LaRose. “Because I’ve traveled all around the world, and you see this level action device here in use everywhere you go. I personally am thankful; my family is in the beer business. My dad and my uncles run our 90 year old family business that sells a quality product to hopefully responsible consumers that enjoy it the right way. And, so yeah, that’s a great thing.”
Planning for the event began several years ago.
“I first suggested a Guinness World Record Attempt to Stolle Machinery Director of Operations Erica Paul as a part of the bicentennial celebration during my annual visit to Stolle Machinery some years ago,” said Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst, who is also the co-chair of the bicentennial committee. “Erica thought I was crazy, but was brave enough to take the idea to company officials, who endorsed it. Certainly I am grateful to Stolle Machinery for underwriting the Guinness World Record Attempt – the first ever for Shelby County – and one that is meaningful as Shelby County and indeed, Stolle Machinery, where the machinery to develop ‘pop-top’ cans was developed, and continues to be manufactured.
“I know that I speak for Co-Chair Bob Guillozet in thanking Steve Wagner and his committee for their efforts to pull together students from Anna, Botkins, Christian Academy, Fairlawn, Fort Loramie, Jackson Center, Lehman Catholic, Hardin-Houston, Russia, Sidney and the Upper Valley Career Center so that we could successfully undertake a Guinness World Record Attempt as part of Shelby County’s Bicentennial Celebration,” said Barhorst. “We wanted to especially establish a record that would help to showcase the important role manufacturing has played in Shelby County almost from the time the county was created – a county that even today has more manufacturing jobs per capita than any other county in Ohio.
“We also want to thank Sidney Alive Executive Director Amy Breinich and her staff for their work in helping organize the event, Sidney City Schools Superintendent Bob Humble and his staff for the use of the stadium and assisting with the set-up necessary for the event, Sidney Police Chief Will Balling and his officers for their assistance in helping buses and guests get in and out of the venue in a timely manner, Shelby County Amateur Radio, those who volunteered as stewards, and the many others who volunteered time to make this event a tremendous success. It was a tremendous team effort,” said Barhorst.
Breinich said it was a wonderful event.
“It’s amazing what happens when of group of people from all over the county come together for their community,” she said.
“Shelby County broke a world record today … what did you do?” she quipped.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.