Alcohol Sales Banned Citywide on June 20 for School Holiday
Published: June 19, 2014 (Issue # 1816)
Vice Governor of St. Petersburg Vasily Kichedzhi announced June 18 that alcohol sales will be banned throughout the city for 24 hours staring the morning of June 20, as the city’s recent school graduates prepare to celebrate the Aliye Parusa, or Scarlet Sails, holiday.
Aliye Parusa is the largest celebration of the city’s White Nights Festival and dates back to 1968. Based on a popular children's book from 1922 by Alexander Grin, the holiday was banned by the city government from 1979 to 2005, when it was reinstated as an official city holiday. St. Petersburg is the only Russian city to celebrate graduation day on such a large scale.
Traditionally, the holiday sees tens of thousands of high-school graduates dressed to the nines descend on the city center for an all-night party on Palace Square and the surrounding areas. Over the years, the under-age drinking associated with Aliye Parusa has come in for regular criticism from the media and parents.
Speaking about the alcohol ban, Kichedzhi said, "those who want to find alcohol probably will, but we are taking strict precautions to make it much more difficult.” The vice governor also said that there was no legal basis for the ban but rather that it is the result of conversations with business owners, who Kichedzhi said were amenable.
The municipal government is reported to be contributing 17 million rubles ($493,841) toward the event, which will feature concerts, a water show and fireworks. The chairman of the city’s mass-media committee Alexander Lobkov said that the city will spend 6.6 million rubles ($191,713) on decorations and 15.88 million rubles ($458,982) on entertainment for the event. Rossiya bank will make up the shortfall.
Concerts to which only the Class of 2014 will be admitted will begin at 11 p.m. on Palace Square and the spit of Vasilevsky Island followed by a multimedia water show with fireworks on the Neva at 1:40 a.m. The concerts and water show will be broadcast live across the country.
According to Kichedzhi, 33,000 graduates are expected to attend the event, including about 200 graduates from Crimea who are expected to attend the event.
3,000 police officers will be deployed in the city center for the event and 30 police boats will patrol the waters to provide security for the event. Traffic along Nevsky Prospect, the city’s main thoroughfare, will be restricted between the Moika River and Palace Square from 6.30 p.m. on the June 20 until the following morning. Drivers are advised to seek alternate routes. The entire St. Petersburg metro system will remain open throughout the night.