The Soviet Union calendar, like the one of Russia, was rich in holidays. The All-Union Physical Education Day was established and first celebrated in the summer of 1939, July 18. The Athlete’s Day came to Norilsk a year later and, judging by the photographs, was celebrated by dancing to the orchestra and playing volleyball.
The population of Norilsk was dancing and playing, having just received the status of a village, and the brass band was from the prison. It was organized by the culture and educational department of Norillag, the author of the pioneer anthem Fly Bonfires Sergei Kaydan-Deshkin. Until August 1940, he was still a prisoner of Norillag and, perhaps, he was there with the musicians too.
The first Athlete’s day was held in Norilsk without a parade, although there were plenty of sports heroes in it at that time. Athletic parades became regular after May 9, 1945. They were carried out not only on the Physical Education Day, which was later transferred to the second Saturday of August, but also on other holidays.
The author of the photographs could be a former Izvestia employee Arkady Sorokin, who shot more than one sporting event in Norilsk. In 1940, he had not yet been transferred to the photo laboratory at the geological department of the Norilsk plant – it appeared the next year, but performed its functions.
Text: Varvara Sosnovskaya, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive