French mayor defends holding massive Smurf rally despite coronavirus spread: ‘We must not stop living’

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(CBS News) – On Saturday, thousands of people dressed as Smurfs — the fictional, blue gnome-like characters — gathered in Landerneau, France to try to break a world record. The mayor of Landerneau defended the decision to hold the rally despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. 

More than 3,500 Smurf cosplayers gathered over the weekend in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest group of people dressed as Smurfs. Last year, the award was given to a group of 2,762 who gathered for a carnival in Lauchringen, Germany.

Saturday’s event occurred just a day before France officially banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people to prevent the spread of the virus, which has now infected more than 120,000 people worldwide and killed more than 4,300. 

But it seems that the Smurfs were not all that concerned about the virus, even though the neighboring country of Italy has imposed a nationwide lockdown. The results of the gathering have yet to be verified by Guinness World Records, but the Smurfs in France have already declared victory. 

“We figured we wouldn’t worry and that as French people we wouldn’t give up on our attempt to break the record, and now we’re champions of the world!” One attendee told the AFP news agency. “There’s no risk — we’re Smurfs! Yes, we’re going to Smurfise the coronavirus!” 

“It was more important, the coronavirus is no big deal, it’s nothing,” another said. 

On Tuesday, Landerneau Mayor Patrick Leclerc defended the decision to hold the event, which he said was necessary to alleviate the “ambient gloom” around the country. “We must not stop living. It was the chance to say that we are alive,” he told AFP.

“We got our costumes from all the shops in the area and we figured that a bit of fun would do us all good at the moment,” Landerneau said. 

As of Wednesday, there have been over 1,700 confirmed cases in France and 33 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The World Health Organization declared Wednesday that the coronavirus outbreak spreading around the globe can now be characterized as a pandemic. 

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