05/01/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT
Charlie Chaplin always liked a good laugh. So chances are he'd really have liked his l00th-birthday party in Corsier, the tiny Swiss village where he lived from 1953 until his death 25 years later. To honor the Little Tramp, townspeople first crowded around his statue in next-door Vevey for the dedication of the newly named Chaplin Square. In a brief tribute, Swiss President Jean-Pascal Delamuraz said simply, "Politicians should take a cue from Chaplin, whose first years were silent." Bands played. Schoolchildren frolicked. And then 88 young Chaplin impersonators made a hilarious debut: Outfitted in Little Tramp bowler hats, suits and oversize shoes, the Charlie clones pranced about the square, canes and hats twirling madly.
Next came the parade. More than 700 schoolchildren, dressed as characters from Chaplin films, began to march through town as planned. What wasn't planned was a squelching drizzle. Undeterred, parents and teachers popped clear plastic raincoats over the kids, and the group sloshed gamely onward like sandwich bags on the march. It was all, well, rather Chaplinesque. In true family tradition, Charlie's son, Michael, 43, laughed it all off. "It's a pity my father wasn't born in July," he said. "We would have had better weather."