Johannesburg - It was the one day funeral directors were supposed to be excited about driving into a cemetery.
With an empty coffin in tow and dressed to the nines, they arrived at West Park cemetery.
They were making an attempt to break the world record for the longest hearse parade.
But the attempt was an epic failure, with only 40 hearses showing up for the event, less than half the required number.
In order for the record to be broken, the group needed to have at least 108 hearses taking part to beat the standing record of 107 set in the Netherlands.
Yesterday, the National Funeral Directors’ Association (NFDA), Joburg City Parks and the Southern African Funeral Expo invited funeral directors to bring their hearses to try break the record.
Each hearse had to have an empty coffin in the back to prove to Guinness World Records’ observers that the hearse was a working one.
Even though the attempt failed, the parade of 40 did manage to raise awareness for the coming Funeral Expo taking place on August 26 and 27 at the Sandton Convention Centre.
Mike Collinge, chairman of the NFDA’s inland region, said he hoped the news about the parade would spread so that they could attempt to break the record again, with more funeral companies on board.
“The major companies weren’t here – if they had been, they would have come with at least 30 hearses,” he said.
The hearses present yesterday came from several different companies, including Martins Funerals, Rand Funerals, Avbob, the Doves Group and Kupane Funerals.
The hearses – from old-school Cadillacs to new Mercedes and minibuses – drove around the perimeter of the cemetery, covering 4km with a 2m space between the cars. After the parade, the directors received a lunch pack, photos and a certificate for taking part.
According to the website for the Southern African Funeral Expo, it will be “the place to discover new and innovative products, meet new suppliers and customers, and network with friends and colleagues in the industry”.
“The expo will have everything you need for a funeral,” said the NFDA’s Antony Maltz.