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Runaway Bride Bobblehead Dolls Go Quickly

March 6, 2006

DULUTH, Ga. (AP) _ Like the woman who inspired their creation, Runaway Bride bobblehead dolls disappeared quickly during a sports promotion in her home town.

The dolls, given to the first 1,000 people through the doors at the Gwinnett Gladiators hockey game Sunday afternoon, were gone in about 10 minutes.

``If it wasn’t the quickest (giveaway), it’s pretty close to it,″ Doug Augis, the team’s ticket sales director, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The 5-inch doll caused a ``huge spike″ in ticket sales, Augis said. Fans of hockey, kitsch and profit lined up more than three hours before the gates opened.

The team wryly advised that any similarity to an actual person, such as Duluth resident Jennifer Wilbanks, was ``purely coincidental.″

Attendance Sunday was 4,389, which is about average for a Sunday game, Augis said. That number likely included many speculators. Kelsey Locklear of Buford guessed that the doll might bring $40 or $50 on eBay. At the game with her family, she planned to sell one or two of them.

The bobblehead features a generic woman’s face, with a veil over her head, a sweat shirt that says ``I (heart) Duluth,″ a pair of running shoes labeled ``Adios″ instead of Adidas and a picture of the state of Georgia on the back.

``We’re making light of the subject itself,″ Gladiators’ general manager Steve Chapman told the Gwinnett Daily Post. ``And they look pretty funny. They’re good conversation pieces.″

Wilbanks’ disappearance last April, just days before her scheduled 600-guest wedding, prompted a well-publicized national search.

The morning of her scheduled wedding, she turned up in Albuquerque, N.M., claiming to have been abducted and raped. Relief that she had been found quickly turned to confusion and anger when Wilbanks recanted her story, saying she fled because of ``certain fears″ controlling her life.

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