A day before France banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people, some 3,500 of them gathered to break a world record. The village of Landerneau in northwestern France, home to the annual Festival of the Starry Moon, was betting on breaking the world record for the "most people dressed as Smurfs" set by 2,762 people in Lauchringen, Germany, in February 2019. The attempt looked to be in jeopardy from the spreading coronavirus, which had infected nearly 1,000 people in France by Saturday. But the Smurfs weren't to be deterred. Some 3,500 people in blue body paint met at a parking lot, where they danced and sang. "There's no risk, we're Smurfs ... We're going to Smurferize the coronavirus," one attendee glibly told AFP. Another dismissed the virus as "no big deal."
The event, attended by 3,549 "Smurfs" in beards and Phrygian hats, smashed the previous record, though the results still need to be certified by Guinness World Records, per the Washington Post. In neighboring Italy, where 16 million people were placed on lockdown on Sunday, people couldn't help but wonder at what cost. One newspaper, La Repubblica, described the event as "potentially a very dangerous viral bomb." Indeed, the CDC notes the virus spreads "between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)." Landerneau Mayor Patrick Leclerc has defended the event, however. "We must not stop living," he told AFP on Tuesday. "We figured that a bit of fun would do us all good" considering the feeling of "ambient gloom." (Read more France stories.)