1980: Ball State students attempt world record with ‘Big Jump’

Posted at 5:30 AM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 05:30:36-04

MUNCIE — Thousands of Ball State University students skipped class in hopes of jumping their way into the record books on Sept. 25, 1980.

The premise of the "Big Jump" was simple, according to journalism major Susan Sparks. "We're going to set a world's record," said Sparks. "We're going to have the most people jump in the air simultaneously."

The idea for the record attempt actually began in a yearbook staff meeting, according to Sparks.

Yearbook photographers and writers began discussing photographs taken by Philippe Halsman. Specifically, photos in which Halsman had his subjects jump into the air.

Jumping into the air had also made its way into advertising at the time. Toyota's "Oh What a Feeling" campaign featured customers jumping into the air next to their Toyota vehicles.

The Orient staff jumped right in.

More than 2,500 students answered the call for volunteers to participate in the record attempt. Toyota also wanted to participate in the event and sent a crew to film the jump. A sea of orange and red t-shirts filled the quadrangle at Ball State.

The orange t-shirts sold by the Orient had "I jumped for it" printed on them while the red t-shirts provided by Toyota read, "I'm a Toyota jumper!" The automaker planned to use the jump in promotional material.

Several students shared their own reasons for participating with former WRTV reporter Greg Todd.

"Because it's fun. It's different."

"Because we love to jump!"

"Because we came to be discovered today."

"I'm doing it because I feel that it is going to further my education here at Ball State."