French mayor Patrick Leclerc defends the event, where over 3,500 cosplayers gathered in hopes of breaking the Guinness World Record for world's largest Smurfs gathering.
Smurfs -- fictional small, blue gnome-like creatures who live in mushroom-shaped houses in the forest -- apparently have a loyal following of fans who love to meet up in costume in large numbers, even during a coronavirus outbreak.
On Saturday, 3,549 Smurf cosplayers painted blue and wearing the characters' signature floppy hats gathered in Landerneau, France, to attempt to break the current Guinness World Record of the largest group of people dressed as Smurfs. Last year, the Guinness World Record was awarded to a group of 2,762 Smurf cosplayers who gathered in Germany.
A video report from the AFP News Agency shows thousands of blue cosplayers happily congregating together hugging, drinking, dancing and basically acting like ... Smurfs.
"We figured we wouldn't worry, and that as French people we wouldn't give up on our attempt to break the record," one Smurf said in the AFP video. "Now we're champions of the world ... there's no risk. We're going to Smurferize the coronavirus !"
While the impressive gathering of Smurfs made the news, Guinness World Records still needs to review the event to see if they did indeed break the world record.
"This attempt has not been approved as a new record," Guinness World Records told CNET. "As a standard application without a Guinness World Records adjudicator in attendance, this attempt is subject to a 15-week review period once we receive evidence from the organizers."
The comical stunt wouldn't be so newsworthy if not for the fact that France, along with many other countries, is urging citizens not to hang out in large crowds for fear of spreading COVID-19. On Tuesday, Landerneau mayor Patrick Leclerc defended the event. "We must not stop living ... it was the chance to say that we are alive," Leclerc told AFP.
That said, those wanting to use crowds of people to break more world records might have to think twice now that spreading viruses is a real threat.
"As our standard terms of business state, all applicants must seek local health and safety advice before proceeding with their events," Guinness World Records said. "We are in the process of reiterating this position to the organizers of all open applications."
The Smurfs event happened just before France banned gatherings of over 1,000 people to try to prevent COVID-19 from getting worse.
On March 1, the Louvre, the world's largest art museum and one of the most famous in France, temporarily closed due to concerns from staff about the possible spread of COVID-19 among the many visitors who pass through the museum daily. Around 9.6 million people visited the museum in 2019.
French politicians, including France's Minister of Culture, have reportedly contracted COVID-19. In fact, as of this writing, France has roughly 1,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
While it's sweet to see so many cosplayers celebrate the Smurfs (who originated from a popular Belgian comic franchise before it became a beloved kids cartoon worldwide in the '80s), it's also horrifying to see them all in such close contact when a dangerous virus is on the loose. That's just Smurfin' unsafe.