Woody Packard

Words + Pictures

Happy Birthday, Ulaanbaatar


Modern Living Float
Today is Ulaanbaatar's 375th birthday. I learned this on my way back from buying more gigas from Skytel this morning. (I ran out the night before on the verge of posting these, my first notebooks.) On my way home I saw fire engines and police everywhere, along with military officers in full dress uniform. I wandered down Peace Avenue to take a look, and what I found were children practicing dance routines, fire engines decorated with balloons, and Sukhbaatar Square filled with festival tents and people.

Even before the festivities began, I could tell this was going to be a big event. After taking in an outdoor photography exhibit that showed the history of the city since there were photographs, I realized that I needed to go home to retrieve my camera, recorder, and more batteries—just one more reminder that we never know what will happen next. When I returned, things were just getting under way. Marchers and floats were lined up to go north on the east side of Sukhbaatar Square, cross in front of the Government House, and then disburse back into the square as they headed south on the west side. They came from almost any kind of organization you could imagine, and many that I was unable to determine. Egg producers and pipe fitters were mixed in with college students and theater actors. For four hours they marched, many groups pausing before the statue of Chingas Khan to perform a dance or other activity that displayed their skill or expertise. The Ulaanbaatar fire company lit a fire and then extinguished it. A flatbed truck carried a group of contortionists. The school where Judy teaches, the Mongolian University of Science and Techology, brought a race car and a go-cart, along with several radio controlled cars, all of which raced around the square and skidded into sharp turns while another group danced, some of the men in white suits with bell-bottoms, some of the women in what looked like swimming suits, despite the fact that it was only a few degrees above freezing.

At four hours, things were winding down, and only two military bands continued to play. Even as I left though, large carts of sound and lighting equipment were being pushed onto the square and men were working on top of the Government House. Although I didn't return to the square this evening, I did step out to the river to watch when the roar outside began. Mongolians like fireworks just as much as we do.

Close Story—Back to Pictures

Happy Birthday, Ulaanbaatar

Click below to page through enlarged images or read the story.

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When It Was New

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Lineup

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Long Horn Warm Up

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Cobra

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Air Ambulance Float

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Lavender Aprons

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Pre-Military Students

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Sports Medals

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Traditional Costumes

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Power Company Float

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Pipefitters

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K-9 Teams

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Golden Reigns

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Big Sheep

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Street Sweepers

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Men Holding Chickens

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Portraits with Camels

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Egg Producers

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Portraits With Dogs

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Students, Graduates, and Faculty

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Pipefitters

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Peasants with Lenin and Stalin

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Simulated Camel

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Ulaanbaatar Motorcycle Riders

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Balloon Release


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