The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

September 18, 2009

2009 Lilly Reunion sets Guinness world record

The Lilly family vied for a world record in August, and organizers of the event say the Guinness Book of World Records certified Thursday that the Lillys are in.

Judges have been verifying attendance records for the past month to ascertain whether the Lillys beat out the Busse family in Grayslake, Ill., for the world’s largest family reunion.

“They almost didn’t pull it off,” Chad Morgan Meador, a Lilly cousin and documentary filmmaker, said. “It was very close, but so exciting.”

Meador said the 80th annual Lilly Family Reunion brought 2,585 registered Lillys to Flat Top last month, which tops the Busse’s 1998 record of 2,369 relatives. Those included in that number had to prove a connection to the Lilly family, be it blood, adoption or marriage.

“People attended the reunion from around 30 states this year,” Meador added. “But everybody in West Virginia jumped on board, and that was the real key to it. Lillys came from as far away as England and Germany. We all just pulled together.”

Danny Girton Jr., adjudicator manager of Guinness World Records, began the verification process when he traveled to Flat Top on Aug. 8, but did not certify the Lillys as the new record holder until this week.

Meador, a Flat Top native, says the Lilly family is ecstatic about the award, and looks forward to it being published in the 2010 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records.

“Southern West Virginia should be proud of having a world record,” Meador said. “It is great for the state and it’s great for the economy. The more things like this that happen in West Virginia, the more appealing it becomes. And now, we’re the best in the world at something.

“Not only will the state gain some national recognition,” he continued, “it keeps people coming back where they came from.”

The filmmaker’s documentary on the reunion will be available by Christmas; for information, go to

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