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At 'Unemployment Olympics,' they go for the silver lining

  • Story Highlights
  • Almost 40 people show up at Manhattan park for "Unemployment Olympics"
  • Featured games: Pin the blame on the boss, phone throwing, pinata smashing
  • "It's positive and doesn't make you feel horrible," says one jobless participant
  • Another said he would envision the face of his ex-boss while going after pinata
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From Laurie Segall
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Nearly 40 unemployed New Yorkers threw phones, smashed pinatas and played "pin the blame on the boss" Tuesday at the "Unemployment Olympics" in New York City.

A pinata is about to be smashed at the "Unemployment Olympics" in New York City on Tuesday.

A pinata is about to be smashed at the "Unemployment Olympics" in New York City on Tuesday.

Jobless participants gathered at Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan's East Village for the event, created by recently laid-off computer software worker Nick Goddard.

"It's just a lighthearted event for people to come out and have good time," Goddard, 26 told CNN.

Former employees, from laid-off hedge fund workers and bankers to people who lost advertising and entertainment jobs, competed in themed events such as the "race towards unemployment."

For those caught in the economic storm, the event offered a chance to get away from the reality of the job market and meet others in the same position. The only qualification for participation was a pink slip.

Lauren, 54, who worked for a large advertising company before she was let go, said, "I loved my job ... but it was eliminated. This is proactive. It's positive and doesn't make you feel horrible. Misery loves company."

Jonathan, 45, who recently lost his job in multimedia marketing said, "It's a little bit of a break -- we all have to work together to get through this."

Onlookers cheered as competitors raced toward an unemployment booth and also played "pin the blame ... on the boss, the war, consumer spending, the Fed and the economy."

The wining "olympians" received gift certificates from local restaurants and bars sponsoring the event. Author Patricia King handed out a signed copy of her book, "Monster Boss" to one competition winner.

Jason, a volunteer who is also unemployed, said, "Networking is the best way to commiserate and know we're not alone. It's nice to get people together and have a laugh."

While some people enjoyed the lighthearted feel of the event, others were there to blow off steam.

Faith, a recently fired union worker said, "You've got to vent that anger somewhere. This is a fun way to get it out."

When asked which event she looked forward to, she told CNN, "I'm really waiting for the pinata. It's my ex-boss. His face will be all over it."

Luis, 27, recently laid off from an advertising firm, had a different outlook. "I'm pretty optimistic," he said, "This event celebrates unemployment. Change is always an opportunity to do something better."

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