Bruce Atkinson kneels and celebrates with his neighbor Tuesday after helping to set a new Guinness world record for the most people simultaneously licking ice cream. The stunt brought 2,694 people — plus observers and counters who kept track of the attempt — to Augustana College’s Ericson Field in Rock Island.(John Schultz / Quad-City Times) John Schultz

 They came. They counted. They licked.  In all, 2,694 men, women and children attempted to win a place Tuesday in the Guinness Book of World Records by simultaneously licking ice cream for a full minute. They lined up on Augustana College’s Ericson Field.

Kai Swanson, one of many overseers at Tuesday’s event, said, “We’re going to do something our mothers told us never to do: eat ice cream before dinner.”

Supervisors dressed in lime-green T-shirts, with “World Record Attempt” lettered on the back, entered the stadium at 5:30 p.m.

At 5:40 p.m., the line of lickers began to move in.

Breaking a world record isn’t simply a matter of showing up and saying you did it. There are rules. For instance, every participant had to be counted three times: going into the stadium, on the field and going out. There were both still and video photographers recording the record attempt and one supervisor for every 50 people. 

Officials at Tuesday’s attempt said they believed the present record is 2,500, set in Spain

The line of ice cream fans stretched from the stadium entrance to a block south at 38th Street, then west on 7th Avenue and back north on 35th Street.

One man in line wondered aloud, “Can you imagine how many people would show up if they were giving away free margaritas?”

Whitey’s Ice Cream has created a new flavor, Augustana Viking Pride, to celebrate the college’s 150th anniversary.  The flavor — peanut butter with fudge swirls and Oreo chunks — was in the cups held by many of the hopeful recordbreakers. For those allergic to peanut butter, there were cups of vanilla.

Moline High School freshman Joe Aumuller won a contest by suggesting the name.

It took almost an hour to get everyone into the stadium. Whitey’s owners — and Augie grads — Jon and Jeff Tunberg were so worried at one point that they would run out, they had more ice cream delivered

Once the crowd was set, runners ran or dollied cases of ice cream cups to everyone. Finally, at 6:50 p.m., they were ready to break the record.

The lines had to curve a bit into each other because everyone was required to hold their cup out to the right so each person would be licking from a cup held by someone else.

With a drum roll in the background, Swanson set them off. Heads dipped and tongues stretched.

It appeared for a full minute that this was serious work.

Afterwards, Augustana Viking Pride was proclaimed “pretty good” or “great.”

One man with ice cream on his nose decided “it was good but the container needs a little work.”

Another suggested “it works better if you stick your whole chin in.”

The 2,694 official participants received coupons entitling them to a free cone at Whitey’s.

Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley, on hand as an official witness, joked, “Too bad we couldn’t use this set-up for the census count.”