(CNN) | March 17, 2010
Reza Sayah

Tehran, Iran (CNN) — Iranians marked a holiday that leads up to the Persian new year under the watchful eyes of police Tuesday night after the Islamic republic’s supreme leader tried to discourage the celebrations.

Thousands of people turned out, some in groups as large as 400 people, to dance, listen to music and light bonfires in side streets around Tehran on the festival of Chaharshanbe Soori. But unlike other holidays in recent months, there was no immediate sign that the observance was becoming a platform for protests against the country’s leadership.

Parties continued into early Wednesday, including one in the northern neighborhood of Zafaranieh where about 150 people danced to music pouring out of cars in the neighborhood. Some revelers played cat-and-mouse games with police who roamed the streets, looking to break up ongoing celebrations.

Read the full piece by Reza Sayah in CNN