Georgia’s Independence Day

Many people had their pictures taken at Alice’s tea party in Wonderland; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

I like the ways that Americans celebrate their Independence Day every July 4th. I like grilling hamburgers and ribs outdoors and eating watermelon. If someone invites us to spend the day with them on a lake or a river, that’s fun. Watching small-town parades with politicians waving from their convertible cars brings on a wave of nostalgia. Homemade peach ice cream tastes wonderful on a hot day! Seeing many red-white-and-blue flags boosts my patriotic spirit. If you’re watching with children, then fireworks displays are exciting. One of my most fun times, however, was when my son Ethan and I made a potato gun and then launched potatoes high into the air over a lake.

My first Independence Day in Georgia, however, was as much fun as any Fourth of July. Rustaveli Avenue, the main street through Tbilisi, was closed to traffic and lined with tents. Tens of thousands of people looked inside these tents to see all of the products produced in Georgia—everything from chocolate to shoes to furniture to subway cars to bricks to cheese to tanks. To entertain the crowd, dancers danced, singers sang, and musicians made music. Kids had lots of fun. They had their faces painted and played a variety of games. Of course, politicians were present. President Saakashvili attracted his own crowd as he walked through the larger mass of people. Creating this event was a smart idea and it was well executed. Georgia can be proud of its economic development in the 20 years since it broke away from the Soviet Union.

Tens of thousand of people strolled down Rustaveli Avenue on May 26, Georgia’s Independence Day, including one man on stilts; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Traditional dances were performed near Freedom Square; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Adults pulled the block to their end, and kids competed with each other to seek who could reel in their block the fastest. This happened over and over again throughout the day. Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Four people with great voices sang from the balcony above the theater on Rustaveli Avenue; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Anderson de Jesus Lopes, William Santos and Susanna Melo shared cotton candy; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

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About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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