Thursday, May 8, 2014

[UPDATED] I Love a Parade

[Updated below with a link to a news story on the parade.]
written by Kevin

We're in the middle of a three day holiday in Kazakhstan. (Didn't we just have two holidays last week?) Yesterday was Defender of the Fatherland Day, a new official holiday celebrated here on May 7 for only the second year. Tomorrow is Victory Day. Today, I guess, is just a holiday to connect the two so we're on a road trip with colleagues to get out of Astana and see a national park. More on that later.

Robyn and I made sure to find our way to the big military parade yesterday. With many roads closed and buses to the parade route filled beyond capacity, we walked the two miles there. We were not alone. With lots of sunshine and a breeze, it was a great day for a walk -- and a parade. 

We searched for a good location to watch the parade but really had no idea what would be best. First we tried one site next to the US Embassy but we felt claustrophobic with the crowds and it was hard to see much of the road. After a walk to a spot a block away, we found ourselves closer to a review stand and with a slightly raised ledge to stand on. It turned out to be a much better if not ideal view. We even saw Kazakhstan's President (for Life) zoom by us before his car stopped and he got out to wave to the crowd and jump in a convertible complete with a standing platform so he could continue waving. (Sorry, but I was too slow on the shutter to catch him with my camera.) The Khazret Sultan Mosque was the background for most of what we saw. There was lots of military hardware on display. Soldiers, trucks, tanks, anti-aircraft guns, missiles and jets. (Some would say it was ALL of the country's military hardware.) Much ribboned hardware on the chests of officers and veterans too. Things ended in a flourish with a smoke-filled sky fountain pattern courtesy of six MiGs. 

When's the last time you saw a military parade? 

Where are those missiles pointed?

A fly-by with colored smoke to match the Kazakh flag. 

Photo with a pretty girl

"I want to be a soldier."
(Pardon the brief writing. We're mobile today and don't have access to the best blogging tools.)

[Update: Additional photos are available at]

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