Last Monday, Moldova celebrated it's 16th Independence Day - August 27, 2007. It was quite a celebration, and living in the capital city, we were able to go downtown and be a part of the festivities. Downtown was PACKED with people, and the later it got the more people were there. This picture was taken looking down the main street early in the evening. On the right in the distance is the red canopy covering the main stage. On the left is The Holy Arch, that stands in front of Chisinau's main cathedral. The booths and tables were set up along that side of the street behind the arch. The Moldovans are PROUD of their independence! They even closed a block of the main street later in the evening to allow the crowds to fill the street.
When we first arrived, at about 6:30 p.m., there was a large stage set up in the main square, and there were local musicians performing traditional music. We spent about an hour strolling the booths and tables that were set up along the main street. We ate pastries, ice cream, and even found some barbecue Lay's potato chips! (Now that's a reason to celebrate right there!)
Then we went back to the stage to watch the national dance troupe called "Joc!" These dancers were amazing! There were about 12 men and 12 women performing various traditional Moldovan dances. They literally danced for an hour. They would finish one dance, go backstage to change costumes while a singer sang one song, then they'd come back out for another 10-15 minute dance. Man, they were great! My camera isn't great at capturing night-time photos (It certainly couldn't be the photographer's fault!), so these pictures are kind of fuzzy. Hopefully you'll be able to at least get the idea.
The crowd was so festive and fun - they even broke out into spontaneous dancing throughout the evening!One interesting thing about this crowd, though, was that nobody was drinking any kind of alcohol, and they weren't selling it at the booths either. Our only guess is that they must've been stopping people from bringing it in in order to keep a family-friendly atmosphere. It was so nice to be a part of a group that was in such high spirits, and nobody was drunk!
Then at 9:00, there came the fireworks show! It was seriously one of the best fireworks displays I've ever seen in my life! Part of my enjoyment may just have been because the crowd was so into it. They enjoyed it way more than any American crowd I've been a part of before. After the fireworks, more singers started, but we decided to go ahead home to try to avoid the going-home traffic. It was definitely a fun time, and we felt like we experienced a part of true Moldova that day.