Patrick Michels

Want to Bring People Downtown on the Weekend? It'll Take Big Balls.

If you came anywhere near Elm and Akard Streets in the last couple days, then you saw an incredible, mind-boggling sight: hundreds of people walking around downtown Dallas on a weekend.

If you looked closely, you probably also saw a pair of three-story beach balls knocking around between the buildings.

As to the question of what the beach balls were doing there -- at 35 feet in diameter, they broke the old world record (by one foot), and a Guinness judge was on hand to make the milestone official. The stunt, as we mentioned last week, was part of an elaborate setup for a Carnival Cruise Lines TV ad.

And all the people? Lots of them were there for the ad too -- paid extras working two 15-hour days in the middle of Elm Street. Others were there for the party, lured by the novelty of the giant balls and the free ice cream, popcorn and hot dogs Carnival was giving away.

And OK, how about the inevitable "balls" jokes? Plenty of them as well, even with small children around. By Sunday afternoon the extras were a little punchy, so every crew member's shout to "keep knives and sharp objects away from the balls," or "don't punch the balls," was echoed back by the tittering crowd.

Those weren't just idle suggestions from the folks directing the operation -- by Sunday afternoon, the balls were patched up in a few places after run-ins with street signs and other obstacles along Elm Street.

To see how the operation came together, check out our slide show here. --Patrick Michels

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