Toronto

Giant Ont. maple leaf sets world record

Joseph Donato's giant maple leaf might not last forever, but the nine-year-old from Pickering, Ont., will probably remember it forever. Without the stem, the leaf measures more than 34 by 29 centimetres.

Joseph Donato's giant maple leaf might not last forever, but the nine-year-old from Pickering, Ont., will probably remember it forever.

He marked Guinness World Records Day on Thursday by proudly displaying the giant specimen he picked up on his way home from a park last month.

Without the stem, the leaf measures more than 34 by 29 centimetres, bigger than some serving platters. Joseph is trying to preserve it in a picture frame.

"It's wrinkled up. It's shrunk about a teeny weeny bit, but still really big," said the Grade 4 student, describing how the leaf has changed since he discovered it on a bike ride in mid-October.

"It's kind of lost some of its colour, but we can still tell it's a leaf."

Joseph said he was really excited when he saw the leaf. He's a fan of the Guinness World Records  books — they're in his school library — and he searched online to see if there was a category for his leaf but couldn't find one.

Instead, the family took photos of him in the backyard with the leaf and sent them to the local paper.

Before long, Joseph said he got a call from a television station and then from Guinness representatives.

"They're going to start a new category for my leaf," he said. "So I'm setting that new record and it's a better chance of getting that in the book because they always want new records.

All the attention has one possible downside.

"People are jealous at school," he confided, and they're trying to find bigger leaves.

His mom, Angie Donato, said she doesn't think the whole experience would have gone anywhere except the backyard if it wasn't for Joseph.

"The reason why this all happened is because he dreamed big," she said. "I think if it was an adult or someone else, we might have looked at it, maybe picked it up, but didn't think about, you know, 'Could it be Guinness big?' and 'How big is it?"'

About 65,000 people every year send in claims for records, Guinness World Records says on its website.

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