Traditionally the residents of Primorye celebrated Tiger Day on the last weekend in September. The Amur tiger was a ‘headliner’ of the 15th anniversary. Thanks to united efforts by administrations of Primorsky krai and Vladivostok city, the Amur Tiger Centre autonomous nonprofit organization, and ecological nongovernmental organizations the holiday lasted two days for the first time in its history and attracted more people to tiger conservation issues.
During two days – September 27 and September 28 – citizens and guests of Vladivostok took part in various joyful events. The opening ceremony of the Tiger Day began on September 27 at the embankment of the Far Eastern Federal University on Russian Island. A new master’s program “Nature Conservation” was presented there. Also, a short documentary about student team “Amur tiger” was featured there. Then, a bronze sculpture of the Amur tiger was unveiled during a ceremony near Primorsky Opera and Ballet Theater. In one of the Theater’s hall there was a meeting during which the residents of Primorye who made a significant contribution to conservation of rare big cats were awarded.
The second day of the holiday, September 28, began with a traditional spectacular carnival procession down Okeansky Avenue – from Pokrovsky Park to the central city square. About 7,000 brightly colored costumed participants proceeded down Okeansky Avenue, and at the intersection of Okeansky Avenue and Svetlanskaya Street circled the downtown square. The parade comprised not only units from Vladivostok, but also from other districts of Primorye. In addition, about 3,500 spectators descended downtown to watch the parade. All in all, the festival attracted more than 10 thousand people. The parade itself comprised 88 units of schoolchildren, university students and representatives of various clubs and unions. The schoolchildren competed in the main contest – the Best Parade Unit – that is why they used all available things such as balloons, flags, toy animals, ribbons, and masks, to adorn their unit goers. Parade units were judged on how they construed the theme of the festival. Annually, three prizes are awarded to three best parade units with a total value of $3,000 USD ($1,400 USD as the First Place Cash Prize, $950 USD as the Second Place Cash Prize and $650 for the Third Place). This year, the Prize Fund was made up of funds generously provided by Phoenix, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Wildlife Conservation Society-Russia Program and Amur Branch of WWF-Russia. Also, in October each parade units will be awarded commemorative porcelain plates, wonderful keepsakes that will forever remind participants of this special event. As always, it was a real challenge for the jury to choose the best parade unit, because all the participants deserved to win.
We would like to thank Dmitry Scherbatkin and Yelena Letkina, our volunteers from Moscow, who helped us in preparations for the festival. It is worth mentioning that the spectators were deeply impressed by the parade unit of the Phoenix Fund which goers were carrying big posters with tiger and leopard paintings by children from various human settlements of the Russian Far East.
Phoenix’ parade unit consisted of volunteers from N. N. Dubinin Boarding School for Gifted Children, a branch of the Vladivostok State University of Economics and Services, was in marked contrast to the rest. The volunteers chanted loud slogans, stopped for a couple of seconds and did a big two-sided puzzle.
One side of the puzzle was featuring a picture of tiger cub waving its paw by Dmitry Scherbatkin. Dmitry began his life as environmental activist by making donations for rehabilitation of tiger cubs. He has already visited Primorye twice. His second visit Dmitry made specially to take part in Tiger Day celebration.
The other side of the puzzle featured Phoenix Fund’s logo. The judges of the contest were very disappointed that they could not judge eye-catching mini show by the Phoenix’ parade unit because Phoenix marched in the procession out of competition.
This year the winners of the Best Parade’s Unit Contest are: 1st place – gymnasium #2, 2nd place – school #10, 3rd place – school # 82.
Then, the Best Cheerleaders Contest began. Each group of cheerleaders representing local educational institutions performed on a special ground in front of the main stage. The cheerleading teams showed amazing performances, which contained many components of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers and stunting in order to direct spectators to cheer for school teams.
The best groups of cheerleaders were awarded cash prizes too. The winners are: 1st place – school # 83, 2nd place – school #39, 3rd place – school #54.
The square was the main ground for festive events. Everyone had a chance to visit pavilions of non-governmental ecological organizations and find out details of their activities and interesting facts about the Amur tiger.
There representatives of ecological organizations gave the children a quiz with questions about Amur tigers and other tiger subspecies. Every child who gave a correct answer received a small gift. One of the most fun and popular activities for children was tiger face painting. During the holiday, they could have their faces painted free of charge.
A live concert of the famous Russian rock band Bi-2 gave zest to the holiday. The concert was held on the stage of the city square at 8 p.m.