Rosie the Riveter record set in Michigan

YPSILANTI, MICH. - "We can do it!" became "We did it!" today in Ypsilanti as thousands dressed as Rosie the Riveter—3,755 to be exact—filled the stands at the Eastern Michigan Convocation Center and brought a world record back home to Michigan.

The Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of Rosie the Riveters since World War II was last set in 2016 in Richmond, Calif., by 2,229 people, stealing the crown from Michigan, which in October 2015 held a gathering of more than 2,000 women.

But the work's not over yet, and technically, Richmond's still the champ on the books.

David Callanan, outreach services director at the Yankee Air Museum, which staged the event, said that organizers still have to submit evidence to Guinness, including photographic evidence and turnstile and wristband counts. The confirmation process could take about two months, Callanan said.

For event organizing co-chair Alison Beatty, Michigan deserves to be known as the "home of Rosie the Riveter," the World War II icon flexing her muscles and wearing a red polka dot bandana and blue overalls in wartime imagery.

The original Rosie the Riveter, Rose Will Monroe, worked as a riveter at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Ypsilanti building B24 bombers for the U.S. military during World War II. Rosie the Riveter became a symbol of women moving into the workforce and filling factory jobs traditionally held by men, who were away at war.

"I just want Michigan to be recognized as a place where Rosie the Riveter abides and has that pride," said Beatty, who ended the gathering with a roaring song that called on the crowd to, "Roll up your sleeves and follow me! We're going to save this factory!"

At the event were more than 55 original "Rosies," according to event organizers. 

Aralina Ferrella, 92, of Toledo, was one them.

Ferrella was 17 when she took a job as a riveter at Willow Run in 1942, said her daughter Tressa Ferrella, 57, of Chicago who was in attendance with her.

The elder Ferrella said she was living in Clarksburg, W.Va., when her brother in Detroit told her, "Come up here, I got a job for you."

That job involved riveting the metal skin of the planes, said Aralina Ferrella, whose late husband James P. Ferrella was a WWII Coast Guard veteran.

"It's wonderful," Aralina Ferrella said of today's gathering. "It's wonderful to see all of these people. I'm glad that they love America."

Andrea Chalut, 33, of Warren was there with perhaps one of the youngest “Rosies” in the crowd, her 7-week-old daughter Penelope Chalut — already a record-breaker, as her mom says.

Chalut, a history teacher at Oxford High School, said she wanted her daughter to be a part of history.

“It means everything,” Chalut said about participating in the event. “As a history teacher, like being able to see these original Rosies that were such an integral part and valuable part to war efforts and just women in general at the time, it’s awesome to be able to be among them.”

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© 2017, Detroit Free Press


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