AP PHOTOS: Crowds celebrate St. Petersburg graduate gala

Jun 27, 2022, 11:49 AM | Updated: 11:58 pm
People watch a brig with scarlet sails floating on the Neva River during the Scarlet Sails festivit...

People watch a brig with scarlet sails floating on the Neva River during the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on the journey into adulthood. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

(AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

              People watch a brig with scarlet sails makes its way down the Neva River during a rehearsal for the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              Young people sit in a park after the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on the journey into adulthood. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              A brig with scarlet sails, sailing on the Neva River during the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Elena Ignatyeva)
            
              School graduates throw their friend in the air in the Palace Square as they take part the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              A brig with scarlet sails, sailing on the Neva River during the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Elena Ignatyeva)
            
              People watch a brig with scarlet sails makes its way through Dvortsovy (Palace) drawbridge on the Neva River during the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on the journey into adulthood. (AP Photo/Elena Ignatyeva)
            
              A school graduate watches a concert in the Palace Square during the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on the journey into adulthood. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              A brig with scarlet sails sailing on the Neva River during a rehearsal for the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, late Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              School graduates sit in a street cafe after the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on the journey into adulthood. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              People climb a building to watch a show on the Neva River during the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on the journey into adulthood. (AP Photo/Elena Ignatyeva)
            
              People watch fireworks and a brig with scarlet sails sailing on the Neva River during the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              School graduates wait for a show on the Neva River during the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Elena Ignatyeva)
            
              People watch a brig with scarlet sails sailing on the Neva River during a rehearsal for the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, late Thursday, June 23, 2022. The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on the journey into adulthood. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              School graduates dance in the Palace Square as they take part the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              School graduates take a selfie photo in the Palace Square as they take part the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              School graduates dance in the Palace Square as they take part the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              People watch a brig with scarlet sails floating through Dvortsovy (Palace) drawbridge on the Neva River during a rehearsal for the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Friday, June 24, 2022. The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on the journey into adulthood. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              School graduates kiss at the Palace Square as they take part the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on the journey into adulthood. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
            
              People watch a brig with scarlet sails floating on the Neva River during the Scarlet Sails festivities marking school graduation in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Saturday, June 25, 2022. The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on the journey into adulthood. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — The Scarlet Sails celebration is a rite of passage both figuratively and literally. Every year, tall ships with glowing red sails make their way down the Neva River in St. Petersburg to honor recent school graduates as they set out on their journey into adulthood.

Enormous, happy crowds gathered along the river banks to watch the ships on Friday and Saturday, along with an elaborate fireworks show. The pageant’s colors were augmented by the deep blue glow of the night sky, which never becomes completely dark over the northern city during the summer.

Recent graduates flocked from throughout Russia for the celebration, embracing each other, tossing their fellows in the air and clambering onto windowsills and door frames to watch the passing ships.

The celebration dates to Soviet times, in 1968, and is rooted in the earlier romantic fantasy novel of the same name by Russian author Aleksandr Green, which was turned into a popular movie in 1961. The book tells the tale of a poor girl of whom a mysterious figure prophesies that her suitor will come in a ship bearing red sails to take her away into a wondrous future.

The event was stopped in 1979, to be revived in 2005 as a major tourist spectacle drawing hundreds of thousands of people and including music and other performances.

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AP PHOTOS: Crowds celebrate St. Petersburg graduate gala