Bell Ringer Sets Endurance Record For Charity

The Salvation Army may have the most-identifiable corps of bell ringers in the country, and a number of them have been ringing their bells for days on end. For charity, of course, but also to try to set a world record. Host Scott Simon talks with Salvation Army Maj. Butch Soriano, who set a new record this week, ringing 105 hours straight.

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(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS RINGING)

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Silver bells, silver bells; it's Christmastime in the city. That's not only a lyric by Ray Evans. They are one of the sounds of the season, on city streets and in shopping malls. The Salvation Army may have the most identifiable corps of bell ringers in the country. And a number of them have been ringing their bells for days on end; for charity, of course, but also to try to set a world record.

One bell ringer now shares the record for ringing the longest. And that's Salvation Army Maj. Marcelino Soriano. He goes by the name Butch. So, Maj. Butch Soriano, thanks very much for joining us.

MAJ. BUTCH SORIANO: Well, thank you for having me.

SIMON: What's your record?

SORIANO: Well, the record that I share with two other individuals is 105 hours straight.

SIMON: That's a lot of bell-ringing. What are the provisions there? Do you get to - well, do you get to take breaks, if you catch my drift?

SORIANO: (Laughter) Yes. So, what they allowed this year was a five-minute break every hour in which you can accumulate. So if you don't take a break for four hours, you can take a 20-minute break to have a snack or to use the facilities.

SIMON: If you don't mind giving away your tips, Major, what's the diet of a championship Salvation Army bell ringer?

SORIANO: What's the diet?

SIMON: Yeah. I mean, are you juicing five minutes an hour or...

(LAUGHTER)

SORIANO: No, there isn't any particular diet, particular training. I know I made a training video, but it was just a spoof of the Rocky Montage training. So rather than knocking out an opponent, my job was to knock out the kettle.

SIMON: Oh, my word. Well, you know, I'd vowed to stay away from this, but I have to ask. So you've seen "Guys and Dolls"?

SORIANO: Yes.

SIMON: More than once, I'll bet?

SORIANO: A couple of times.

SIMON: All right. So, there's the song in there, right? If I were a bell, I'd be ringing - (Singing) If I were a bell, I'd be ri-i-i-ng...you know, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: Somebody other than me should sing it for you some day, Major.

SORIANO: But I'm sure it relates to the kettles.

SIMON: Yes, it does.

SORIANO: Just like the song you sang in the very beginning, "Silver Bells." And, you know, the person that wrote it, because they were away from their family in the city and they heard the bells, it just reminds them it's Christmastime in the city.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG FROM "GUYS AND DOLLS," "IF I WERE A BELL")

JEAN SIMMONS: (Singing) Well, sir, all I can say is if I were a bell, I'd be ringing...

SIMON: Well, good holiday season to you.

SORIANO: Well, thank you, Scott. And Merry Christmas.

SIMON: Salvation Army Maj. Butch Soriano, speaking with us from the studios of KPBS in San Diego.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IF I WERE A BELL")

SIMON: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News.

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