MOSCOW — The Soviet capital threw itself a rousing 840th birthday party on Saturday that included a Mardi Gras-type carnival in Gorky Park, a parade through Red Square and political street theater portraying the often grim history of the city.
The public response to an invitation to "The Carnival" in Gorky Park, on the banks of the Moscow River, was so overwhelming that police were forced to close gates to the park and army trucks sealed off a bridge near the park to cars and pedestrians.
In desperation, police also closed subway stops near the park to prevent any further buildup of revelers.
The festivities were held to mark the founding of Moscow by Prince Yuri Dolgoruky. The city, which now has a population of 9 million, was first mentioned in historical chronicles in 1147. The festival was also designed to serve as a prelude for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution to be held on Nov. 7.
The celebration included an open air performance of the Bolshoi Ballet in Red Square and scores of rock, classical and folk concerts on about 80 makeshift stages spread throughout Moscow's 33 districts. Military brass bands marched throughout the city.
The parade through Red Square included floats depicting the usual political themes of peasants armed with hammers and sickles in revolt against a black-cloaked, cigar-smoking figure representing capitalism.