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Blonde Parade Hopes to Brighten Latvia's Economy

An army of blonde women invaded Latvia's capital Riga Friday for the Eastern European city's annual Go Blonde festival which runs from May 28-29.

Organizers expect 800-1,000 blondes to participate in the parade on Saturday to show that they really do have more fun.

Blondes parade through the streets of the capital Riga, during Blonde Weekend. An army of 500 blondes will try to put a smile back on the face of recession-weary Latvians by staging a festival this weekend designed to show that they really do have more fun.
Ilmars Znotins | AFP | Getty Images
Blondes parade through the streets of the capital Riga, during Blonde Weekend. An army of 500 blondes will try to put a smile back on the face of recession-weary Latvians by staging a festival this weekend designed to show that they really do have more fun.

They also hope the event will bring positive energy to Latvia, which is forecast to see its economy contract by 3.5 percent in 2010.

This year the theme for the 'Blonde Parade', which is organized by the Latvian Association of Blondes (LAB), is 'pink and blonde' and includes a retro blonde competition and a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like contest, a Blonde Diva concert and a Pink party.

Last year was the first time for the fund raising event and it was held under the slogan 'make the world a brighter place' in the hope of dispelling the economic gloom.

"We have to cheer people up. We know there is an economic crisis, but small things like a playground or a blonde parade can cheer up all the residents of Riga. Why not?" says Marika Gederte, president of the Latvian Association of Blondes (LAB).

Latvia's economy, which shrank by 18 percent in 2009, is expected to grow 3.3 percent in 2011 and 4 percent in 2012, the Finance Ministry said on Tuesday.

Latvia's national airline, airBaltic, is one of the sponsors of the parade.

"It's really positive and a good example of cooperation between the private sector and the municipality, especially taking into account that we have got limited resources because of the (economic) crisis," Riga mayor Nils Usakovs said. "It's important to make people believe that if you do something good for the city, it ends up in the hands of those who live in the city. This is a small but very positive example."

Latvia took a 7.5 billion euro ($9 billion) rescue led by the IMF and European Union at the end of 2008 to survive an expected sharp fall in budget revenues due to the recession and to avoid a devaluation of its currency.

The event coincides with the Baltic state hosting the NATO parliamentary assembly which will run from May 28 until June 2.

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