By FRANK GRIFFITHS, Associated Press Writer
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A cigar maker in Puerto Rico has hand-rolled a 62-foot-long stogie, which would be the world's largest if confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Patricio Pena, 43, took about four days to manufacture the cigar in a plaza outside a farmer's market in the Santurce district of San Juan, finishing the project late Saturday.
"A friend of mine came up to me recently, and said why don't you try and make the world's largest cigar?" Pena said standing over the cigar, which spanned the length of about a dozen tables.
Pena is attempting to displace Cuba — the king of cigar-making — as the home of the world's largest cigar. The current Guinness record-holder is Jose Castelar Cairo of Havana who made a 45-foot-long cigar in August of 2003.
Pena, originally from Santiago, Dominican Republic, first started rolling cigars at the age of 7, and has continued the practice in Puerto Rico, where he has lived for the past three decades. He has a stand outside the market where he rolls regular-sized cigars.
It took 20 pounds of tobacco from Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania and 100 leaves to roll the huge cigar, Pena said. The materials cost about US$2,000 but he was sponsored by San Juan's city government, Bacardi rum company and Telemundo television station, he said.
Pena said he started the cigar on Wednesday, rolling the tobacco over about an hour and 20 minutes. He let it sit for the next two days so the tobacco gained consistency and would be easier to wrap.
Dozens of curious onlookers including legendary Cuban percussionist Carlos "Patato" Valdes were on hand to watch the final stage of the feat on Saturday. Pena had nine assistants turn the cigar as he wrapped it with the leaves over an hour.
Pena said he does not plan to smoke the cigar or cut it into smaller stogies. Instead, he plans to hang the cigar in the market so tourists can come and see it.
He has already contacted Guinness and is planning to submit the final paperwork soon with the required witness signatures. Guinness officials at the London-based organization were not immediately available for comment on Sunday.
"I hope someone tries to break it. I plan on adding a foot (half a meter) every year until I reach Ponce," Pena said jokingly, referring to a coastal city about 70 miles south-southwest of San Juan.
Puerto Rico, a U.S. Caribbean territory of about 4 million people, once had an important tobacco industry but it has faded over the past century as the economy has shifted away from agriculture and toward industrial manufacturing.