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MADRID (AP) — Some clutched pillows or stuffed animals, others fought back giggles as they sought to take a siesta in public — all in the name of plugging a quintessential Spanish custom endangered by the demands of modern life.
Amid the bustle of a shopping mall, with babies wailing and pop music piped in overhead, clutches of people tried to snooze Thursday in what was billed as Spain's first siesta competition.
The goal — to promote Spain's cherished post-luncheon nap — is no joke, although the costumes of some who participated may be.
As the nine-day snooze Olympiad got under way, some competitors snuggled with giant stuffed animals or clutched pillows like babies with comforters. Others wore airplane eye masks to block the light. A young stern-faced judge with a T-shirt bearing the letters "ZZZ" monitored the proceedings perched high on a lifeguard's chair.
Contestants in groups of five were given 20 minutes to lie down on garish blue coaches and timed by a doctor with a pulse-measuring device to determine how long they spent snoozing. They could win extra points for snoring, adopting goofy sleep positions or wearing outlandish night wear in plain view of gawking shoppers.
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