The ring of a record

Published 9:01am Sunday, December 8, 2013

1208.RingerRecordIt’s official.

Albert Lea Salvation Army Capt. Jim Brickson has broken the world record for ringing a Salvation Army bell. What’s not official is whether he will walk away the record holder. He must outlast two other bell ringers who started at the same time and day he did.

They are Salvation Army Maj. Marcelino Soriano of San Diego, Calif., and Andre Thompson of Tyler, Texas. Soriano said he planned to quit after 100 hours. That would be at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Brickson has no plans to quit now, he said at 7 p.m. Friday when he surpassed the world record of 80 hours. About 150 people gathered at the center court of Northbridge Mall in Albert Lea to watch him.

“While it’s exciting to share the record, my plan is to attain the record,” Brickson said.

He has increased his fundraising goal. He had aimed for $24,000, but on Saturday morning, after 92-plus hours of bell-ringing, it went up to $35,000.

“That’s $1,000 for each night I miss tucking my daughter into bed,” he said.

The red kettle at his location at Northbridge Mall has brought in more than $28,000, as of Friday night.

He was joined at the 80-hour moment Friday night by mayors from around Freeborn County: Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen, Clarks Grove Mayor Bruce Hansen, Glenville Mayor Wes Webb, Emmons Mayor Paul Henschel and former Albert Lea Mayor Mike Murtaugh, who is chairman of the local Salvation Army advisory board.

“It’s really about a lot of people coming together,” Rasmussen said. “It’s amazing what one man can do.”

About an hour before the record-breaking moment, Brickson could be spotted on a live web camera hunched over. The 50-year-old wears all-leather, flat-sole Keen boots and regular black dress socks. He sometimes takes them off for a couple of hours to give his feet a rest. He stands on anti-fatigue mats that cashiers stand on, donated by Hollandale firm North American Mat Co.

Brickson said he isn’t in pain, after ringing a bell for 80 hours, with only minimal breaks. He is hunched over, he said, because he is stretching his back. He’s stiff, more than anything, he said. He takes ibuprofen every six hours.

The rules allow a five-minute break for every hour. If he doesn’t take breaks, he can accumulate time for rest. On Thursday, he was able to take a shower and a nap.

He has been interviewed by Headline News, BBC, TV stations in the Twin Cities, New York and San Diego. His initial story was picked up by the Associated Press and sent to news organizations everywhere.

But his favorite part is getting to talk with people.

“I’m an extrovert,” he said. “People entertain me.”

And he said he is thrilled with the attention the world record quest has placed on the Salvation Army and its annual red kettle campaign.

Meanwhile, Northbridge Mall has been packed with people.

Chuck Van Wey, of Albert Lea, said he has lived there for 40 years and has never seen the mall’s parking lot as full as it was Friday night.

His wife, Shari, said she walks the mall for an hour every morning and has been checking on Brickson to see if he is doing OK. And she makes a contribution, like so many others going by have.

Salvation Army Youth Director Lori Miles said all the staff at the local Salvation Army church is nervous for the health and mental state of Brickson, but they are proud of him and “happy for the awareness to the efforts we do all year-round.”

The nonstop ringing takes place outside Skyline Jewelers. Owner Bruce Arbic said the traffic has been “astronomical” for his store and other merchants in the mall.

He said they all are appreciative of the work the Salvation Army does.

Having the bell ringing at the mall was Brickson’s idea, said the mall’s marketing director, Tina Stripe.

“We’ve been supporting him all the way,” she said.

Seconds before 7 o’clock, people began to count down. Someone chanted “Captain! Captain! Captain!” Then there was cheering and applause. Then came media interviews.

Albert Lea resident Thom Moffitt attends the Salvation Army church. He was tweeting at the big moment, posting updates and photos to followers. He said he likes to show people “the behind-the-scenes stuff.” He noted he and other members have been checking up on Brickson through the record attempt.

Hansen, the Clarks Grove mayor, said the attention has been fantastic for Freeborn County.

“You go anywhere, and that’s all they talk about,” he said.

The real goal

Dec. 3 donations

Mailed-in donations: $1,000

Dropped-off-at-office donations: $300

Online donations: $100

Mall kettles: $788.91

Text to give: 0

Total: $2,188.91

Dec. 4 donations

Mall kettles: $3,091.04

Online donations: $869

Text to give: 0

Total: $3,960.04

Dec. 5 donations

Mall kettle: $7,770.64

Online donations: $225

Text to give: 0

Total: $7,995.64

Dec. 6 donations

Mall kettle: $13,281.60 (which included $5,000 and $3,000 checks)

Online donations: $512.90

Text to give: $10

Total: $14,350.50

Grand total Tues.-Fri.: $28,495.09


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