Spanish town painted "Smurf blue" decides to stay that way

JUZCAR Spain Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:00pm EDT

People walk with African donkeys at a street during the promotional event for the film ''The Smurfs 2'', in the Andalusian village of Juzcar, near Malaga, southern Spain, July 23, 2013. The facades of the houses were painted blue in 2011 as part of a global promotion for the Sony Picture film ''The Smurfs''. The premiere of ''The Smurfs 2'' will be in several countries in July 28, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

People walk with African donkeys at a street during the promotional event for the film ''The Smurfs 2'', in the Andalusian village of Juzcar, near Malaga, southern Spain, July 23, 2013. The facades of the houses were painted blue in 2011 as part of a global promotion for the Sony Picture film ''The Smurfs''. The premiere of ''The Smurfs 2'' will be in several countries in July 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jon Nazca

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JUZCAR Spain (Reuters) - A Spanish hilltop village has found a way to chase away the country's recession blues by keeping all its buildings blue, the way they were painted in 2011 for a promotion for a cartoon Smurf movie.

"We calculate that around 210,000 tourists have visited us since we painted ourselves blue two years ago, and people keep on coming," Juzcar Mayor David Fernandez told Reuters on Tuesday.

Tourism is one of the few bright spots in Spain's recession-bound economy.

A traditional village nestled amongst chestnut forests in the southern region of Andalusia, Juzcar, with a population of fewer than 250 people, painted everything blue, including its church and town hall, when it was chosen by Sony Pictures to host an event to promote the movie "The Smurfs 3D".

Promoters pledged to repaint the town white after the event, but residents voted to keep it blue because of the economic benefits brought by Smurf-seeking tourists. The fictional blue creatures are based on a Belgian cartoon series, where they are depicted as living in mushroom-like houses.

(Writing by Sonya Dowsett, Editing by Sarah White and Michael Roddy)

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