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By NOLIN AINSWORTH
JUNEAU (AP) — On page 207 of the 2005 Guinness World Records book, between listings for the “Most champagne bottles sabered in one minute” (20 bottles) and “Oldest restaurant” (Spain’s Restaurante Botin), is found one of 59-year-old Al Gliniecki’s four world records:
“Most cherry stems knotted in three minutes — Al Gliniecki (U.S.A.) tied 39 cherry stems into knots with his tongue in three minutes at the Guinness World of Records Experience, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A., on January 26, 1999.”
“It is a lot of fun, you get to meet a lot of people,” Gliniecki said.
Jay Leno, Jalen Rose, Regis Philbin and Montell Williams to name a few.
The stout 1976 graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School has always been out to prove himself: first in a downtown Juneau ice cream parlor, later in the U.S. Navy and eventually as an EMT.
The possibilities of cherry conquests were the furthest thing from Al Gliniecki’s mind as a boy growing up in Juneau, but he’d always been a competitor. When he was a teenager, he planned to break an ice cream eating record.
“I was eating like three gallons in two minutes, I was just shoving it down as fast as I could,” he said.
But he ran into a problem the day before he was to go for the record.
“So I’d go down there twice a week and they’d give me a set amount of ice cream and . I remember a couple times after practicing I could not talk for a day or so. So the day before, it was July 3, 1976, I’ll never forget it, because July 4 I’m actually supposed to do the challenge. July 3, I’m practicing and I do all this ice cream and I get home and I could not talk — I could not talk. My throat swelled up.”
That night he had his throat checked out by medical staff at Bartlett Regional Hospital, who told him firmly to lay off the ice cream for a month or he could inadvertently suffocate himself.
He may never have accomplished that record but Gliniecki’s shot would come eventually. A combination of patience, good luck and an entertainer’s heart gave Gliniecki what he always wanted.
Nine months went by before he picked up the record label from Guinness. His story traveled around the world. Television media took notice.
“I get home and I hit my answering machine after work and there’s a message, and the message was, ‘Hey, I’m the producer of the Jay Leno show and we’d love to have you come on the show if you give me call.’ And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, (they think) I’m a dumbass fireman.’ I thought they were playing a joke,” Gliniecki said. “So I hit the next one, boom, ‘I’m the producer of the David Letterman Show, we’d love to have you come up.’”
“And I’m like, ‘OK, someone’s playing a joke, but I had names and numbers,” he said.
Gliniecki has appeared on close to two dozen shows, all while maintaining a career as a fireman and Emergency Medical Technician in Pensacola, Florida.
“I’m looking to get on the Gong Show, my second appearance on America’s Got Talent. I want to get on the new Tonight Show, because I’ve been on there twice with Jay Leno. I might try the Ellen Show just one more time because I had to turn them down but shows remember you if you couldn’t do it.”
Gliniecki estimates he’s earned between $25,000 and $30,000 from the appearance fees from various shows. But he’s never become a Guinness Record holder for the cash. But it has accumulated something else for him.
“I think it’s brought a lot of humor to people,” he said. “And to me.”