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Steeves come up short of world record but not family pride

Steeves family members enter Moncton Coliseum for World Record attempt.
Steeves family members enter Moncton Coliseum for World Record attempt. Jeremy Keefe

Although they won’t get their names in the Guinness World Records book this time, the Steeves clan wrote an exciting page in their own book on Saturday night.

In celebration of the 250th anniversary of their ancestors arriving in Canada members of the Steeves family wanted to do something really special.

A week of activities kicked off on Friday and will run through the end of this week. Many of the hundreds of thousands of descendants worldwide made the trip to New Brunswick to join in on the fun.

“Now we get to say home isn’t just Moncton and Hillsborough,” said Susan Steeves, on the arrival of her relatives the world over. “Home is Rome, home is Paris, home is London.”

Saturday night was perhaps the main attraction as the enormous family attempted to break a world record that has stood for nearly nine years.

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“I’m proud of my family, I’m proud of the people who worked on this,” Steeves said.

Their goal was to have the most people with the same last name in the same place at the same time.

The Gallagher clan set the bar in September 2007 with 1,488. To best them, the Steeves would need to remain in the coliseum for five consecutive minutes and follow Guinness’ stringent set of rules.

“Guinness told us that we had to have people with proper ID that was either a passport, national ID card with photo or a driver’s licence,” genealogical expert Aurora Feletti explained. “And children could come in with a birth certificate or copy of birth certificate.”

That meant those who had taken another name through marriage were ineligible, although those who had taken it on through the same means, were.

After musical entertainment and a visual and spoken word family history was complete, the clan was ready to take its best shot.

“The whole presentation was great, the story was great, it was accurate and we had a lot of people here enjoying it,” Moncton Northwest MLA Ernie Steeves said.

After lining up and being brought onto the coliseum floor in pre-arranged groups of 50, a five-minute timer was started.

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The excitement grew as the clock ticked down, with the entire crowd cheering as the final 10 seconds were counted.

Unfortunately for the hopeful family though, it wasn’t to be. The final tally stopped at 937.

“It wasn’t so much the number,” Steeves, who chaired the record attempt, said. “What we’re exceptionally proud about is in this room tonight were Steeves from all around the world.”

“A family came together and got to celebrate who they are,” she said.

And with five more days to celebrate the Steeves clan, it’s not likely to dampen the mood for the proud family.

“We didn’t get the world record but we had a great night,” Ernie Steeves said. “We had a lot of fun.”