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Independence Day event draws poor to Hakaniemi

Hundreds of people are heading out in snow and ice for a free meal.

Heikki Hursti
Heikki Hursti Image: YLE

The traditional Independence Day gathering for the poor commences around noon in Helsinki’s Hakaniemi Square, an area known for its blue-collar roots.  

This is the eighth time Heikki Hursti is staging the celebration that was originally started by his parents, Veikko and Lahja Hursti decades ago.

Hursti is expecting to feed around 700 guests, who will dine on meat soup, sandwiches as well as buns and coffee. The needy can also take home food provided by Hursti’s organisation.

“Different types of people are showing up: families, pensioners and those looking for a communal spirit,” he said.

Culture Minister Paavo Arhinmäki is scheduled to give a speech at the celebration, which will also feature choir performances.

According to the organisation, the Independence Day soup kitchen contrasts the President's glamorous televised ball in the evening.  

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