Las Vegas Sun

November 17, 2018

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Guest Columnist:

Ri Ra Irish Pub’s Paula McKenna: How we broke a Guinness World Record

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Steve Marcus

Ethan Walker listens to The Black Donnellys perform during a kick-off for a Guinness World Record attempt at Ri Ra Irish Pub on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, in Mandalay Place. The pub is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for longest music marathon performed by Irish bands. The current record is 15 days.

Guinness Record Attempt at Ri Ra

Employees applaud during a kick-off for a Guinness World Record attempt in the Ri Ra Irish Pub at Mandalay Place Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. The pub is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for longest music marathon performed by Irish bands. The current record is 15 days. Launch slideshow »
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A countdown clock is shown during a kick-off for a Guinness World Record attempt at Ri Ra Irish Pub on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, in Mandalay Place. The pub is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for longest music marathon performed by Irish bands. The current record is 15 days.

Click to enlarge photo

Employees applaud during a kick-off for a Guinness World Record attempt at Ri Ra Irish Pub on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, in Mandalay Place. Musician John Windsor is at right. The pub is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for longest music marathon performed by Irish bands. The current record is 15 days.

Editor’s Note: As Robin Leach arrives in La Jolla, Calif., for family time after returning to the United States from his annual Italian travels, many of our Strip personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their words of wisdom.

We continue today with cabaret singer Michael Monge, whose life changed a year ago when Steve Wynn discovered him singing in Florida and promptly moved him to his Strip hotels. And ever wonder just what it takes to break a Guinness World Record? Paula McKenna, assistant general manager at Ri Ra Irish Pub in Mandalay Place, knows, and she tells us how it was done:

Our little Ri Ra Irish Pub in Mandalay Place completed the unthinkable on Friday, Oct. 17. We set a Guinness World Record. As I look back at the mammoth task we undertook, I can’t help but ask myself if it was worth it.

Like it was yesterday, I remember the day we were approached by one of our musicians, who plays regularly with us here at the pub, about this great idea he had. “How about trying to set a Guinness World Record at Ri Ra Las Vegas?” he said. “Imagine what it would be like for our little Irish pub to take Las Vegas by storm and put us on the worldwide map!”

His words lingered with us. You could feel the excitement take over us as we imagined the craic, glory, fun and adventure we were about to embark upon.

We would attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the “Longest Concert By Multiple Artists.” “How difficult could it be?” we thought. We already have plenty of musician friends who play at the pub. We have live music seven nights a week, so we have all of the necessary equipment.

It can’t be that difficult, right?

Before we knew it, we submitted our application and printed the rulebook. Our looks of excitement quickly began to change into anxiety and nervousness as the scope of what we had agreed to do came full circle. How on Earth were we going to organize this mammoth task? How were we going to beat the previous record of 15 days?

The planning mode began. Rulebooks were scrutinized, to-do lists were compiled, emails were sent, and calls were made. Music must play nonstop with no more than a 30-second pause between songs. Only 5 minutes were permitted for technical setup between each band.

No song could be repeated within 4 hours. The attempt must be witnessed at all times. And 10 people must be present in the venue watching the attempt. We must be mad!

It was finally D-Day; there was no turning back. Everything was in place, and we were ready. On Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 1 p.m., the first chord of the guitar was played. The attempt had officially started, and the countdown clock was set. Crowds came to cheer us and witness what we hoped was history being made.

Friends flew in from across the country and Ireland to lend a hand, play a set, be a witness and, most importantly, encourage us to keep going through the wee hours. Supporters from around the world watched our live feed and sent messages of support and encouragement. It was unbelievable.

Along the way, there were definitely some hairy moments — when we thought the video footage had stopped recording, when a musician nearly fell asleep while playing, when a band didn’t show for their scheduled time, and when a supporter took out one of our musicians when she mistook her flute for a pistol.

But we did it. After 15 days, 12 hours and 10 minutes, we had broken the record and officially set a new Guinness World Record for “Longest Concert By Multiple Artists.”

The atmosphere was electric, the support was unwavering, and the celebrations were insane! Looking back, there is no doubt in my mind that it was absolutely worth it. It was a magical moment, a time when you’re reminded that there are great people in this world and of the power that music has to bring people together.

Check out our other guest column today from Michael Monge, whose singing impressed Steve Wynn so much that the hotel mogul promptly moved him from the East Coast to the Strip.

On Tuesday, Robin’s 10 questions with “America’s Got Talent’s” first magician winner, Mat Franco, as he enters the 48-hour countdown before his first night of previews for his Las Vegas residency at the Linq Hotel, and handwriting expert Grace Thompson deciphers the secrets of Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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