Navy Pier Ferris wheel record attempt will include 'emergency pee bottle'
Lots of completely unnecessary Guinness World Records have been set by Chicagoans or in Chicago. On Friday, Clinton Shepherd hopes to set another. The 32-year-old South Sider will board the Navy Pier Ferris wheel at 2:30pm. If all goes according to plan, the Pier Park operations manager will ride the wheel in the sky and keep on turning continuously (save for five-minute breaks every hour) until Sunday at 2:30pm. The 48 hours spent onboard would shatter the time for Longest Marathon on a Fairground/Theme Attraction, which the Guinness Book of World Records' website says is 25 hours (though there is a Canadian claim on a 30-hour record). Of course, all of this would be a more impressive test of stamina were the ride Raging Bull at Six Flags instead of the Pier's sluggish Ferris wheel. But over the phone this afternoon, Shepherd said slow-jamming his way to a record has its own set of challenges.
Is your life one big training montage right now? Yeah, I'm trying to stay up as long as I possibly can. If I do take a nap, it's usually five or ten minutes, because I do get five-minute breaks every hour. So my goal is to stay up four to five hours straight, so if I do need a break, I can save up the time and use it when I need it. I'm also trying to get my body prepared to take care of the proper...bladder issues. Outside of that, it's just a big mind game.
What has been your interaction with Guinness? They sent me, like, a 12-page packet of information. Which is fairly reasonable. We have time keepers that will be there, and a representative from Guinness will be out eight hours before I break the record on Saturday to look over all the footage and the timestamps we will have. They're very tedious about it, but they just want to make sure things are done properly.
Ever stayed up for two days straight? I did it about two weeks ago at work.
Damn. The Pier is working you hard! I just thought it would be good training for me. Once your body gets used to being up, after you fight off the sleep for an hour or two, then I'm up after that. Which is good, because once I'm in the Ferris wheel gondola, I cannot sleep. If I lay down, I'm done. So my goal is, if I get sleepy, I'm gonna stand up for a while, shake it off, move around.
Are you a coffee drinker? I am, but I will not be drinking coffee during the record attempt. There are certain things I know that make me have to go to the bathroom. [Laughs] And coffee and orange juice are at the top of the list.
Will you have a bottle, for emergencies? Yes, I will have an emergency pee bottle. I'm painting it all black, so it won't be so noticeable to the eye.
The Ferris wheel moves slowly, so you'll actually have time to go. Yeah, yeah. [Laughs]
The wheel's pace is sleepy. It really is a peaceful ride, so I'll be fighting sleep a lot. People think this is easy, that anyone could do it. But the wheel puts you in such a relaxing mood!
How do you plan to stay entertained? I'll have a couple of perks in the gondola with me. I teamed up with Frank Fontana, who's a host on HGTV. He designed the inside of my gondola inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. I'll have an LCD TV, some nice cushion seats, an X-Box, a DVD player.
Are you going to watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off? You know what, I have no idea what that is. I'm gonna have to check that out.
Does your girlfriend get to ride with you? Yeah. She's not too keen on heights, but she'll be getting in here and there. [Laughs]
What's the appeal of this stunt, aside from the publicity? Having a Guinness World Record alone is enough. But the fact that Chicago is the home of the original Ferris wheel by George Ferris—I thought it was only fitting that I bring the title to Chicago.