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80,000 attend statue crowning festivities at May Day ceremony in Helsinki

The official and traditional start of Helsinki's May Day celebrations began on Monday evening with the washing and crowning of the Havis Amanda statue in the city's downtown.

Video: opiskelijat lakittavat patsaan
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This year's crowning of the Havis Amanda statue located by Helsinki's southern harbour drew a crowd of up to 80,000 revellers, or about twice the number of people who attended the traditional May Day (Vappu) event last year, according to city police.

This year the ceremony, which involves a group of students hoisted by a massive crane above the fountain-statue and throngs of people below, was carried out by students from Helsinki University at about 6 pm on Monday.

Eleven members of the institution's student union, dressed in their school coveralls, first placed a scarf on Havis Amanda's shoulders and then a traditional - if large, at size 84 - student cap on her head.

The student union was chosen this year in honour of the organisation's 150th anniversary.

Scores of other student ceremonies and celebrations also took place in cities like Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Lappeenranta, Rovaniemi, Tampere and Vaasa on Monday evening.

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