Lodge's hat collection recognized by Guinness book

Posted: Monday, April 01, 2002

KENAI (AP) -- A collection of more than 20,000 hats at a Kasilof lodge has been certified as the world's largest by the Guinness Book of World Records.

John and Suzie Cook of the Tustumena Lodge are the first holders of the Guinness record. For 11 years, they've been collecting hats.

They've managed to put more than 22,000 lids on display on the walls, ceiling and anywhere else there's room inside their establishment. For a while now, they've been claiming to have a larger collection than anyone else, anywhere.

Last week, that boast became official when the Cooks received notice that the Guinness Book of World Records had officially certified their collection as the world's largest.

''They sent a letter and a certificate saying we had the record. It's exciting,'' Suzie Cook told the Peninsula Clarion in an interview.

Cook said the collection began in 1991. By 1995, the Cooks had so many hats, they decided to look into the record, but dropped the idea when they discovered it was a major undertaking.

''In 1995, we wrote a letter trying to get in. After we got over 20 thousand, we said, 'Let's do a real try,''' Cook said.

''(The application) was very lengthy. There was all kinds of certification and paperwork to do,'' she said.

Guinness required that an independent auditor count each and every one of the hats. When the official number was tallied, there were 20,422 hats in the collection.

But since that count, more hats have piled in. As of Friday, Cook said there are 22,014.

''It just keeps growing and growing,'' she said.

The Cooks are now trying to figure out just where to put all the new hats that keep coming in. The existing lodge space already is filled to the brim.

''We might have to do some building this summer,'' she said.

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