LINCOLN — University of Nebraska-Lincoln students walking by the green space outside the Nebraska Union about 2 p.m. Friday wouldn’t have known that rain threatened a world record.
All they saw was sunshine, happy people at work and a lot of red and white toy plastic bricks — 184,320 to be exact.
It was all part of UNL sophomore John Lang’s Big Red Husker Flag Project, which used the bricks to build the world’s largest logo — the Nebraska “N.”
Lang was aiming to break his second Guinness World Record in two years. Last year, over Memorial Day weekend, John, his family and more than 200 volunteers pieced together the world’s largest image made of interlocking plastic bricks: an 1,800-square-foot American flag . That project raised funds to support charities for U.S. veterans and first responders.
Some of the bricks from the flag were reused inthe “N” project. His goal is to raise $90,000 — $1 for every seat in Memorial Stadium — for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Donations can still be made at thegreatamericanflagproject.com.
The flag will be on display until Sunday, giving Husker fans time to “ooh,” “aww” and donate on their way to football coach Scott Frost’s debut game Saturday night.
Lang’s team was able to break the record for the world’s largest logo made with interlocking plastic bricks, but not quite as convincingly as he had hoped.
Lang had planned to use more than 300,000 plastic bricks. But the rain caused the crew to end the project early, and just 184,320 bricks were put in the logo.
Bobbi Lang, John’s mother, expressed some disappointment that the “N” wasn’t as big as planned but said she was thankful for the way strangers came together for a good cause.
“I’m a little disappointed, but I know fans won’t be,” Bobbi said. “Neither will the kids. That’s what matters.”
Volunteers included many Omahans who helped with Lang’s first record-breaking project and representatives from AES Engineering, which aided in the design work.
Dale Johnson came out to help with his daughter because he loves toy bricks. He belongs to an adult Lego club that works on projects.
“This is the biggest one I’ve done so far,” Johnson said.
Jacob Lang, John’s younger brother and a junior at Westside High School, missed two classes Thursday to help his brother unload and get ready for the build. Luckily, there was no school Friday.
“Jake’s been the silent cornerstone for his brother’s project,” Bobbi said.
John Lang partnered with Tau Kappa Epsilon because the fraternity’s philanthropy partner is St. Jude. Members of the fraternity volunteered all week to help complete the logo. John’s older brother, Tony Jr., a senior at UNL, is a fraternity member.
“It’s cool that we’re a group of guys who can come together for a project like this and give back,” he said.
Volunteers from Lincoln’s BDK CPAs and Advisors served as the official witnesses, ensuring that Guinness rules were followed.
One rule required the build to be continuous, meaning that at least one person had to be working until it was completed.
When the rain started pouring about noon Friday, most volunteers rushed to cover supplies with plastic tarp and find shelter for themselves. All but two.
Bobbi and Lang’s dad, Tony Sr., continued piecing the project together, not about to let the weather get in the way of their son’s record-breaking project.
“I taught them to give back,” Tony Lang Sr. said of his sons. “I want to see people walking away with that spirit of volunteerism and giving back to the community because I think we’ve lost some of that.”
A little later than expected, the project was finished and the Husker “N” revealed.
None of the Langs are quite sure what will happen to the logo after it’s removed from the green space Sunday. Maybe someone will want to buy it, with the proceeds going to St. Jude. Maybe the “N” will go into storage until something is figured out.
And, maybe, just maybe, the Lang family will use the bricks to attempt to break another world record.