Earlier this week, hundreds of clowns donned in colorful outfits, painted faces and big red noses, took to the streets of Mexico City to the amazement and delight of the locals. The contingent of over 800, was in the city from October 18-21st, for the Annual International Clowns' Convention.
Now in its 15th year, the convention that attracts entertainers all the way from Peru, was started as an effort to gain respect and recognition for this important talent of making people happy. Over the years, it has evolved into a forum where clowns showcase their talents, learn new tricks, stock up on the latest wigs and costumes, as well as, learn new make-up techniques.
The convention opens with all the attendees dressed in their finest clown outfits posing for a group photograph taken with an old-fashioned panoramic camera. After that, the attendees, compete with each other in fun events like best crazy face, best vagabond, best-knotted balloon and best juggler.
This year, the clowns added a new activity - To see if they could break the World group laughing record. However, while their 15 minutes of non-stop mirth was enough to break the USA and Mexico record it fell 5 minutes short of the world record of 20 minutes. Not discouraged, the group plans to try again next year.
This convention is particularly important in Mexico because, while in most parts of the world, clowns only perform at pre-organized events like birthdays, here they represent a large and very important part of the cultural and economic life. Thousands of them perform on the streets every day, leaping from behind traffic lights, as they try to garner a few laughs from the drivers and earn a living. The Latin-American Clown Association estimates that there are about 10,000 professional clowns in Mexico, of which 3,000 are women.