This year our young state celebrates its 22nd birthday, a serious age, when studentship finishes and adulthood begins. Everybody has its own vision of stable and independent Ukraine, and these visions may differ, but despite all difficulties and conflicts all Ukrainians unite on August 24 to celebrate the dream which came true.

ForUm watched and participated in the festivities and now hurries to report.

Khreshchyatyk streets was offering all kinds of entertainment. The Automobile Federation of Ukraine (FAU) opened a race track for kids, who could drive a cart free of charge after answering correctly the questions of a quiz.

Next to FAU tracks Kyiv city auto club was holding its own sport festival, where racers and bikers were demonstrating their skills.

Those having sweet tooth could enjoy the All-Ukrainian festival of ice cream with various displays and games.

Within the finals of 3x3 basketball championship of Ukraine and Ukrainian 3x3 street ball league, all comers could try their hands in various sport competitions.

National symbols were especially popular on this day.

The sky was overcast, but rain did not start, fortunately.

People on Khreshchyatyk were congratulating each other on the anniversary and sharing the emotions.

Police office Bohdan was on duty, but it did not impede him to enjoy the holiday.

"I wish people always remember about this day and about those who helped our country to become independent. I do like this holiday and usually celebrate it with my family," he said.

Animator Ivan also contributed to the festive mood of Ukrainians.

"I wish you happiness, health, success and many poems. I like this holiday very much, but when everybody has fun I usually work," he said.

Halyna Volodymyrovna and Yuri Vasyliyevych approach the matter very serious.

"This is a holiday of freedom and hope. As long as Ukraine was dependent on other states, Ukrainians were dying fighting for its independence! We are still not fully independent, but we are optimistic about bright future of our strong nation. We have a family tradition - instead of staying at home, we dress in national embroidered shirts and go to Khreshchyatyk to share happiness with other people," they said.

Near "Mystetski arsenal" volunteers were holding a "Parade of embroidered shirts".

Kyiv residents Iryna and Galyna were thrilled by the idea of the parade.

"We love embroidered shirts and we know how to make them properly. I remember, when I was a kid, we used to cultivate hemp, then hand weaved and embroidered with simple cottons, which bled very fast. Then Leningrad cottons appeared. They never bled and embroidered shirts became more beautiful," the women said.   

Iryna added that she still embroiders, knits and weave various small  things.

"I think embroidered shirts suit everyone, young and old. It would be nice if they grow into fashion again," she pointed out.

Before the parade the participants were taking pictures and receiving congratulations from folk groups. It turned out that a folk group from Latvia came to Ukraine not only for a performance, but for the parade as well.

Finally, the festive march started and about seven thousand people from 20 regions of Ukraine went to the Independence Square.

Representatives of each region were following their personal wonder birds.

Every region had its specialty. Sumy region, for example, presented body art.

However, the majority of participates stayed with more traditional ways of performance.

Along the march every city was presenting its program. Awards of the march included the Cup and cash bonuses in three nominations: "The best bird", "The most numerous delegation" and "The best presentation of the march".

Moreover, participants were competing for the best man's, woman's and child's shirt.  

The girls were the pick of the bunch.

The Latvians made a furore. The audience welcomed them with a storm of applauses and a "photo  session".

The march appeared stunning from above.

Gutsul trumpets announced the finish line of the parade on the Independence Square.

However, Kyiv residents and guests of the city celebrated the holiday not only in the center. Many people preferred the Kyiv Zoo, where two tigers, Malysh and Rebe were celebrating their fifths birthday.

"They are brother and sister. They were born here, in the Zoo, in 2008. When the tigers bow you can see a Chinese character on their fronts. It means "king"," an employee of the Zoo Valentyan Zaytseva told. 

Nastya and Vladyk prepared a present. "I am making a hare and Nastya is helping me," Vladyk told us, and in the response to the question what holiday the country was celebrating the children answered without thinking "Tigers' birthday".

Zoo employees also prepared a present for Malysh and Rene - a pumpkin stuffed with meat.

On the occasion of the Independence Day, a charitable fair of school kit for orphans and children from poor families was opened on the territory of the Zoo.

All comers could purchase various school supplies and uniform to send to children.

"We have bought a backpack, exercise books and a school diary and paid only 100 hryvnias," Yuri and Olesya told us.

According to the organizers, in the frameworks of the charitable fair, 370 orphans could visit the Kyiv Zoo free of charge on August 24-25 and enjoy performances of music groups.

ForUm decided to ask visitors why they preferred the Zoo and did not go to the man square of the country.

"We came with children. They have fun here. We may also go to Khreshchyatyk if children feel like it, but we do not plan on special celebrations," Volodymyr told us. 

"We are in festive mood today and want some positive emotions. My husband learned about the events in the Zoo and we decided to come here first. Being among the nature always feels good. But we plan on going to Khreshchyatyk later," Iryna said.

No doubts that the celebrations of 2013 were held on a large scale and made an impression. Let's hope that this will become the next step towards our "growing up" and will encourage even hardened skeptics.

Happy birthday, country!

Anastasia Pika, Daryna Schwartzman, photos by Maxim Trebukhov, Viktor Kovalchuk


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