Although public officials are met with far less rotten fruit and tomatoes, the annual Mayor Weigh-In in High Wycombe, England still draws a crowd ready to boo an increase in the mayor’s weight.
Today, the Mayor Weigh-In is just a symbolic act. At the beginning of every mayor’s term, their weight is taken publicly by men in period dress, using a scale from the 1700s. That weight is recorded, and kept for the next year, when the mayor is once again weighed in front of a crowd. This time though, a town crier announces whether the weight has gone up, down or stayed the same.
When it was first introduced in 1678, it was used as a real tool to measure corruption in the town of High Wycombe. By weighing the mayor each year, the citizens of the town could see if the mayor was “getting fat” off of the taxpayer’s pound. At its inception, the mayor was in fact corrupt, and a drunk slob. But his slovenly time as mayor set a strange tradition into motion that is still celebrated each year 340 years later.
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