The long line snaking back from a cloud of barbecue smoke at Wildwood Preserve Metropark yesterday was hungry - for food and a world record.
The scene, reproduced at four other area Metroparks, was part of an attempt by the park district to satisfy both by offering 10,000 hot dogs and 10,000 hamburgers and host the world's largest picnic.
Scott Carpenter, a spokesman for the Metroparks of the Toledo Area, predicted around mid-day that there would be no problem in besting the record set in the last year in England of 1,059 picnickers.
“We'll crush that at any one of the five parks,” he said.
Park estimates suggest that there were more than 12,700 picnic participants - and those were only the ones who signed up before indulging in donated hot dogs, hamburgers, pop, and dessert, Mr. Carpenter said.
The idea behind the event was to find a fitting way to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Metroparks.
The park district was formed in 1928, and its first Metropark, Maumee's Side Cut, originally consisted of two picnic tables.
“To go from two picnic tables to the world's largest picnic is pretty neat,” Mr. Carpenter said.
It was a picture-perfect day for enjoying the outdoors - grassy fields were full of children kicking soccer balls and throwing Frisbees - but thoughts of glory were what motivated Duane Poole's two children to attend.
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“They wanted to be part of the Guinness Book of World Records. They're pretty excited,” the West Toledo resident said while relaxing in the shade on a blanket at Wildwood Preserve.
Picnic festivities also took place at Oak Openings Preserve, Pearson, Secor, and Swan Creek Preserve parks.
Those that had been planned for Side Cut, Farnsworth, and Providence parks were moved to the other areas because of the Maumee River's high water levels.
All the participating parks offered live music, nature walks, children's activities, and special exhibits, such as a classic car show at Secor.
In Pearson, Kalup Edwards, 13, of South Toledo chose to float lazily in a pedal boat, dipping his hand in the water from time to time to cool himself or splash his cousin, Elijah Randolph, 10, of Flint, Mich.
Nearby, Lois and Merlin Lieske of Elmore sat in lawn chairs in the middle of a field, luxuriating in the warmth of the sun under a blue sky.
“We brought our chairs, and we wanted to get a little sun,” Mr. Lieske said.
The free hamburgers and delicious chocolate cake didn't hurt either, he added.
Jesse Orosco of South Toledo and his family claimed a picnic table, littering it with baseball gloves, a cooler, and other instruments of fun.
The Metropark has become a cherished resource for them, a little piece of country away from the city, and yesterday was no different.
“We [visit] at least a few times a month,” he said. “It's peaceful.”