Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid |

Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I’m not a single guy anymore – very happily, I should add – but if I were, I know where I’d be going on vacation next year: Riga.

That’s right. Riga, the so-called City of Inspiration, Latvia’s stunning capital city at the mouth of the world-famous Daugava River. Renowned for its culture, with a downtown center so historic it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Riga is one of the most important financial centers and seaports in the entire Baltic region.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Riga Tourism had to say about the fair city: “Welcome to Riga! The attractiveness of the city is difficult to resist! … Impossible not to be loved in Riga, because of its given inspiration to everyone – both for them which are delighted with ancient and which craves for new impressions.

“Riga – City of inspiration. Come and make sure of it.”

Wow. If that doesn’t sell you on the place, you obviously don’t delight with ancient and crave for new impressions like I do. Just call me one of those who is unable to resist the city’s attractiveness and its given inspiration.

Of course, none of that has anything to do with why I’d vacation there if I were a single guy. That has a lot more to do with a festival that will be held in Riga next year. Things are still in the planning stages, but if all goes well, next May Latvia’s capital will play host to a Rio-style carnival of blonde women.

Last weekend saw Riga’s annual blonde parade, a celebration of all things fair-haired, female and Latvian that in just its second year has blossomed into a two-day festival.

In fact, the parade and its attendant parties, concerts and Marilyn Monroe look-alike contest proved so successful this time around that Latvia’s blondes have even grander ambitions for 2011. Hence the plan for next year’s carnival, which a BBC News story said will be “like Rio, just a little bit blonder.”

There were only a handful of snafus marring this year’s parade, and surprisingly none of them had to do with parade participants showing up hours late or accidentally walking down dead-end streets and not knowing how to get back out. I’m not saying that didn’t happen, just that it didn’t mar the parade.

Riga’s blonde festival is the brainchild of Marika Gederte, president of the Latvian Association of Blondes, who – inspired perhaps by Riga’s attractiveness – dreamed up the event as a response to the depressing economic situation in Latvia, which has Europe’s highest unemployment rate and an economy that shrank by 18 percent in 2009.

“We decided … let’s do something nice,” said Gederte. “I asked myself the question: What can I do for my country? And this is what I did … We are very proud to be blonde.”

The blonde parade has raised a significant amount of money for Latvian charities, and Gederte should be given credit for using her and her cohorts’ talents, which include their hair color and lots of pink clothes and high-heeled shoes, to do something positive.

There are still those, however, who have taken exception to Gederte’s creation, claiming that the blonde parade is discriminatory to brunettes, redheads and men. I feel quite certain that the Riga parade’s blonde organizers would be aghast at such charges and would assure their accusers that they don’t know the meaning of the word “discriminatory.” Besides, they might add, those accusers are only a bottle of hair dye and a few minutes away from being blondes themselves.

So why should you go to Riga if you’re a single guy? Well, if you’re a single guy who hasn’t figured that out yet, maybe you shouldn’t vacation in Riga. It sounds like maybe blonde women aren’t your style. But for you other guys I’d like to point out that if the carnival really is going to be like the one in Rio, it’s a good bet that things could get a little crazy and all those blondes might start shedding some of that pink clothing.

More importantly, a single guy’s odds of finding that someone special are pretty good in the Latvian capital. As the city’s tourism board noted, it’s “impossible not to be loved in Riga.” That may be a bit of hyperbole or a poor translation of an entirely different thought, but then again, it could be true. I think it’s worth booking a trip.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Tony Vagneur: Let it flow

Lake Powell. Many things to different people: drinking water, irrigation, green golf courses, watery grave of archeological sites significant to native people. It’s a huge artificial reservoir of water behind the Glen Canyon Dam; it’s…

See more