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Batavia trying to break record for largest group hug

BATAVIA – Local residents will be asked to hug it out in September in an attempt to set a world record.

Batavia resident Randy Simonian is organizing the Batavia Group Hug, set for 10 a.m. Sept. 13. Simonian hopes to surpass the current Guinness World Record for largest group hug of 10,554 people, set in May 2010 in Ontario, Canada.

"We're going to blow that away," he said.

Details are still being worked out, but Simonian said the idea would be for neighborhoods across the city to be involved in the group hug and for other parts of the city to be set up as overflow areas, such as along the Batavia Riverwalk.

As details are worked out, they will be posted on Batavia Group Hug's new Facebook page. The event will not be limited to Batavia residents.

"Bring your friends; bring your family," Simonian said. "The more, the merrier."

Simonian said he is used to organizing large events, as he plans large-scale corporate events for a living.

"This is right up my alley," he said.

Simonian said he already has contacted Guinness World Records, which has given him permission to go ahead with the event, though he added "we have to get final approval on a counting method."

Through the event, Simonian said he hopes that residents will get to know each other a little better.

"We're all so busy these days," Simonian said.

He said he also hopes the event will help raise money for a worthy cause. In December, Simonian led a bus trip to Chicago to help the homeless.

"This is going to be effort from everybody's heart," he said.

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