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Winterfest activities continue in Portsmouth

December 27, 2018
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Guests make their way around an ice skating rink at Market Square as part of Winterfest activities on Wednesday in downtown Portsmouth, Ohio. FOR MORE PHOTOS, GO TO WWW.HERALD-DISPATCH.COM.

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — The city of Portsmouth, Ohio, can now claim a new world record.

On Dec. 15, residents entered into the Guinness World Records for the most people singing Christmas carols at one time. Residents and visitors, approximately 1,880 singers, came together to sing yuletide songs door-to-door during the inaugural Toyota Winterfest. Their record narrowly beat the previous world-record holder of Waukesha, Wisconsin, which had 1,822 singers in 2013.

The record was overseen and certified by a Guinness World Record judge, said Nick Rutman, member of the Friends of Portsmouth.

Rutman said the criteria to enter the record books included how singers were grouped together and how many tickets were given out.

“We actually now have two framed world records in our gift shop,” said Rutman, who is also a Realtor with the Rutman Burnside Realty Group.

In August, the Friends of Portsmouth organized another successful entrance into the record books, this time for the

most people simultaneously potting plants. Portsmouth set the record with 1,405 people. The record had not been attempted before, according to the Academy Of World Records.

Rutman said the idea to enter the history books, including with the most Christmas carolers, was developed to attract people to the first Toyota Winterfest in the city’s Market Square.

People still looking for something to do after the Christmas holidays are encouraged to visit the festival, which is happening until the end of December. There’s a skating rink, gift store and plenty of retail spaces to eat and shop, Rutman said.

“This was the first year we’ve done it, and the crowds have been phenomenal all month,” he said.

The idea to start a winter-themed event was to attract people to Portsmouth who may not immediately think of the city as a Christmastime destination. Rutman said he’s never seen an ice skating rink in the 36 years he’s lived there.

The temporary skating rink, which is approximately 35 feet by 65 feet in diameter, features a special plastic surface that mimics the effects of ice but doesn’t need to be frozen. It costs $5 for an all-day skate pass.

All proceeds generated from the ice rink will go toward the Friends of Portsmouth’s efforts to install decorative arches on 2nd Street in the city. The arches will be a permanent addition to spruce up the area and could be lit up during Christmastime.

Rutman said since Winterfest has been a success, they will do it again next year.

“This will become an annual event,” he said.

The festival will be open until Dec. 31. During the weekend, there will be horse and carriage rides offered.

For a full schedule of planned events and ice skating rink availability, visit www.friendsofportsmouth.com/winterfest or search on Facebook for “Friends of Portsmouth.”

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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