To Santa, a 3.5km-long letter

Hazaribagh, Feb. 15: If a four-lane freeway morphs into a giant letter for Santa Claus, Guinness Book is the address, not Arctic Circle.

Over a thousand students of Sri Agrasen School at Bhurkunda in Ramgarh have written a 3.5km long letter to Santa Claus in 33 minutes and 150 languages, making a strong bid for posterity at the Guinness World Records.

Right now, Romanian schoolchildren hold the Guinness record for the longest letter to Santa. Over 2,000 children of Brasov, Romania, had for nine days written a 4km-long letter to Arctic Circle's jolliest gentleman in 2008.

Ramgarh students seem to be doing better.

Students numbering 1,110, ranging from nursery to Class X, sat in rows on both the sides of Ramgarh-Bhurkunda four-lane between Mahuatola to Bangarha on Tuesday morning.

Supervised by school authorities, including 36 teachers, Bhurkunda block development officer (BDO) Sadanand Mahto, Hazaribagh zilla parishad vice-chairman Sanjeev Bedia, Rotarians and others, children started writing their letter at 10.32am.

They finished their task at 11.05am on the dot.

According to school authorities, the timing had to be verified by a gazetted officer.

Guinness stipulates two conditions for including a feat in its records. One, the aspirant sends $7,500 for Guinness to ship out its representative who monitors the feat and the timing. Two, the aspirant invites a gazetted officer who does the job and certifies the feat and the timing.

Finding the former too expensive, the school opted for the latter. BDO Mahto was invited especially for the event.

"Such innovative work in a place like Bhurkunda is surprising," said Mahto.

School secretary Pravin Rajgadia said they had written to Guinness in the Yuletide month of December last year, asking how to go about setting a world record.

"We wrote to Guinness on December 14 and received a reply on January 25. They told us about the Romanian record set in nine days. They also sent us guidelines," principal Soni Ashok said.

She added that the letter was now kept in school. It would be sent to Guinness authorities with the accompanying certificate and newspaper clippings.

"We are waiting with bated breath for what happens next. I want to thank the Romanian children for the inspiration," she added.

Participants are also looking forward to the Guinness decision.

"We asked Santa for the gift of world peace. We had great fun sitting on the road and writing the letter. Now, let's see," said Praveen Kumar of Class VIII.

"A world record will be great. But the effort was out of the world," said Sandeep Ranjan of Class VII.

One doesn't know if Mr Claus has an ear for alliteration, but it seems fitting that Romania's Brasov will meet its match in Ramgarh's Bhurkunda.

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