BEIJING (Reuters) - A city in China's central Hunan Province set off a 20 km (12.4 mile) string of firecrackers this week -- despite failing to persuade Guinness World Records to verify the event, the Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.
The string of firecrackers stretching from Dayao Town to Liuyang City, China's biggest firecracker producer, exploded for 68 minutes, littering the ground with debris and touching off an explosion of criticism from newspapers across the country.
"We hope the success of making the longest firecracker will increase the confidence of producers and make our city well known across the country," Xu Qiangguo, head of the Liuyang Firecrackers Bureau, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
The event, co-sponsored by local fireworks plants and the local government, cost more than 800,000 yuan ($107,000).
But no official Guinness World Record representative accepted the invitation to attend the event, and outside media said the town's efforts had been wasted.
"Unless the firecrackers are supposed to be part of a cinema scene of raging war, what benefits can come from setting off 20 kilometers of fireworks?" asked the Beijing Times.
Xu disagreed. "I don't think it's a waste of money because we got what we wanted: extensive media coverage and more orders."
Chinese are frequent and enthusiastic users of firecrackers during traditional festivals, especially the Lunar New Year holiday which falls next year on February 7. They are traditionally believed to scare away evil spirits and bring good fortune.
Chinese towns have staged a variety of fantastic 'records', including the world's largest mooncake, the world's longest whisper and the most people ever to fit on a golf course.
"It's high time to call off applications for the professed 'longest' or 'most' records, such as 10,000 people eating hotpot and 10,000 people washing their feet together. They lack social significance as well as scientific and technical skills," said an editorial in the Guangzhou Daily, which called the event a "real burden for the local economy."
A ban on firecrackers in central Beijing was lifted in time for last year's lunar New Year festivities, to the loud joy of Beijingers.