By Candace Sipos -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- "All you gotta do is carry your lips."
That's the message Ben Weber, coordinator of the city's Big Kiss event, wants to get out.
He came up with the idea to set a Virginia record for the most people to kiss simultaneously last year, and 97 couples came out to the downtown pedestrian mall for the cause the Saturday before Valentine's Day.
"I was just trying to think of what can we do for Valentine's Day," Weber said. "Why not? Listen, things don't have to be complicated in this world. Sometimes the beauty of a simple kiss is the most exciting."
He plans to expand the event every year. For this year's try at breaking last year's record, which will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Weber has secured blood pressure screening and other health checks. If participants donate to the American Cancer Society or the American Heart Association, they will receive raffle tickets to win prizes donated by local merchants, he said.
All proceeds will go to the American Heart Association.
The actual kissing will occur at 2 p.m. in front of the old courthouse.
"This is going to last a long time because we will continue to break the record every year," he said, adding that he expects much more participation this time around.
He has been in contact with representatives from Hershey's and Chapstick about possible sponsorship for future years. While the event doesn't make any money for the city or merchants, it's designed to draw people into downtown.
Weber emphasized that any couple can come out -- whether it's a romantic or family oriented couple. Last year, some parents kissed their children on the cheek or forehead.
Weber arranged for pictures to be taken from a second-story window, and then he blew up the images and counted the number of couples.
"It was the ultimate public display of affection," he said. "Some people just aren't that into that, but in this case, it was like a free pass."