By: Caitlyn May
Published in the Cottage Grove Sentinal 6/26/2018
Somewhere between 2 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 18, members of the Double Secret Society will herd the crowds together and count exactly how many people showed up to Bohemia Park in a toga in an attempt to break a world record.
The event is in honor of the film, “Animal House” that was filmed in Cottage Grove and remains one of the city’s largest tourism draws.
The Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce has teamed with the Bohemian Film Festival to celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary Aug. 18 with a parade and an attempt to re-claim the Guinness World Record for biggest toga party.
The city lost the prize more than a decade ago to a university in Australia.
“We’ll group people in groups of 50 in a grid system so we can take photos and for a 15-minute window have everyone gathered,” said chamber executive director Travis Palmer of how the record attempt will be documented.
Palmer is also a member of the Double Secret Society, the group made up of chamber and community members planning the August event.
To earn the record, Cottage Grove will have to have more than 3,700 people don togas and be counted. It will also have to prove it.
In an attempt to do so, the chamber has opted to sell tickets to the event which caused a stir on Facebook late last month due to the cost of entry. According to Palmer, the first record-breaking attempt sold tickets as well for $15. This year’s price is $20 per person.
The price had some residents hesitant, noting that, for a family of five to attend, it would cost $100.
“The first thing people need to understand is that to coordinate an event of this size there are significant costs. Insurance alone, security bringing in extra bathrooms, there’s a lot. That doesn’t even factor in the performers. They shouldn’t think of this as a toga party. It’s a concert, it’s an event with a lot of bands,” Palmer said.
Only individuals who buy tickets to enter the toga party will be counted toward the world record attempt.
Those who choose not to buy a ticket can still celebrate “Animal House” Aug. 18, according to Palmer. The Village Green and Eugene Emeralds will be hosting “Animal House” themed events and the Cottage Grove celebration will include a parade, free of cost.
“We understand $20 might be too expensive but that’s also part of the reason we’re having a big parade, there’s no cost for the parade. We’re losing money on the parade,” Palmer said. Individuals who volunteer to work the event may also have their toga party ticket paid for, according to Palmer.
The parade will take place in downtown Cottage Grove in the same location the film staged its famous parade scene. The chamber is hoping to attract residents to take part in the parade as well as enjoy it from the sidelines. Entertainment inside the toga party will include several bands including Otis Day who famously sang "Shout" in the film. The event will be co-sponsored by the Bohemian Film Festival which will debut this year in Cottage Grove showing submitted films throughout the day at various locations around the city including the armory and community center.
Tickets for the “Animal House” celebration are on sale now through the end of the month for $15. The price will jump to $20 in July and, according to Palmer, may rise again in August.
For more information, or to volunteer to work the event, visit animalhousetoga.com or call the chamber of commerce at 541-942-2411.