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'Positive Energy': Blonde Parade Lifts Spirits in Gloomy Latvia

Latvians may be feeling depressed as a result of the economic crisis which has hammered the Baltic state, but over 500 blonde women did their best to lift spirits in Riga on Sunday with a parade and other "Blonde Weekend" events.

The global economic crisis has hit the Baltic state of Latvia particularly hard and left the population feeling blue. But one group of Latvian women has taken a novel approach to fighting the pervasive feeling of doom and gloom.

On Sunday, a procession of more than 500 blondes paraded through the capital Riga wearing pink and white. Many were escorted by lap dogs wearing the same cheerful hues. Their goal: to use their beauty to shine a little light into the dark mood caused by the global downturn.

Though it was far from being a protest march, some women used the opportunity to counter stereotypes. "I am beautiful, but I'm not dumb," Ilone Zigure told the news agency AFP. The student added that she hopes that those of her countrymen who are depressed about the economic crisis will find her "positive energy" contagious.

It's a sentiment that many observing the parade shared. "Finally, something positive," one 70-year-old woman watching the parade told AFP. "I just can't stand listening to people talk about the crisis anymore."

The parade was just part of a range of events making up Riga's "Blonde Weekend," which also included a golf tournament, a fashion show, a ball and a drawing contest for kids. The Latvian Blondes Association, which organized the events, hoped to use any proceeds from the weekend's activities toward a playground for handicapped children.

jtw -- with wire reports

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