Thompson, Man., now has an unusual new distinction it can point to to bolster its claim to "Wolf Capital of the World": it's the Guinness World Record holder for most people howling like wolves at once.
More than 2,000 people gathered on a baseball field in the northern Manitoba community this week for the successful record-breaking attempt, which was organized by Spirit Way Thompson as part of AuroraFest, a Canada 150 celebration.
"It was completely overwhelming, in a good way," says Volker Beckmann, Project Director with Spirit Way and one of the organizers of AuroraFest. "We thought we'd get maybe 1,000 people out, but it was a blue-sky day, the fall colours were out, and people just started coming and kept coming."
In all, volunteers counted 2,033 official participants in the record attempt. The previous record — 803 people howling like wolves in unison — was set by a group in Niagara Falls in July.
"Everyone's just shaking their heads in wonderment at the result we got," Beckmann says.
In order for the record to be considered official by Guinness, organizers had to follow a set of strict requirements; participants had to have tickets and howl continuously for one minute, and the entire event had to be filmed and witnessed by an observer. Guinness will now review the footage and paperwork to determine if Thompson's record will stand.
AuroraFest, which continues until Sunday, featured plenty of other wolf-related programming, including a wolf art hunt, photography workshops and chances to observe two semi-wild rescue wolves from Alberta. Next month, Thompson will host its second international Wolf and Carnivore Conference with some of the top wolf and polar bear biologists from Canada, Russia and the United States. It's all in service of the ultimate goal of establishing the city as a global leader in wolf stewardship, research and tourism.
"Where we live in Manitoba, we’re surrounded by boreal forest, wilderness and wildlife, and we just wanted to celebrate that," Beckmann says.
Watch highlights from the world record wolf howl attempt below: