Mon, Jan 01, 2007 - Page 1 News List

New Year's festivities attract massive crowds

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Young people dressed up as as clowns perform for bystanders in Taipei's Xinyi District during the New Year Countdown Parade held by the Taipei City Government yesterday afternoon.

PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

When the clock struck midnight, a fireworks display lasting 188 seconds illuminated the Taipei 101 skyscraper, enchanting the tens of thousands of revelers who had come to enjoy the New Year's Eve Party sponsored by the Taipei City Government last night to count down to the new year.

The fireworks show, which attracted at least 400,000 people last year, wowed spectators again this year.

A rainfall of fireworks lit up the sky at midnight, followed by another 12 series of fireworks explosions and the lighting up of the world's tallest skyscraper.

Building on last year's success, the number of fireworks was increased from 8,000 to 10,000, constituting 12 series of explosions in eight different colors.

"Five, four, three, two, one: Happy New Year!" Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and pop star Jolin Tsai (蔡依林) said, counting down on stage to ring in the new year.

Former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who was scheduled to join the countdown with Hau, later declined to attend last night's event, saying that the city government was now in Hau's hands.

The 13-hour marathon party, which the city government claimed to be the largest in the country, began in Xinyi District with a 3-hour parade at 2pm.

A total of 15 teams of cheerleaders from Taipei Jingmei Girls High School, along with marching bands, groups of bikers, Japanese Taiko drummers and clowns strolled down Songgao, Songzhi, and Songshou roads, cheered on by revelers taking pictures of the parade.

Nearby at Taipei's Champs Elysees ethnic performances from Brazil, the Middle East and Japan were performed.

Long before the main concert started at 7pm in front of Taipei City Hall, crowds started to gather in Xinyi District, vying for spots in the area and at MRT stations nearby to get a good view of the fireworks and concert.

"We are here for the fireworks. The show last year was great, and we don't want to miss it this year," said a woman surnamed Kao, who had arrived with her two sons.

At another corner, a father surnamed Wu, who drove with his sons from Taoyuan, arrived at Xinyi District around 1pm with his New Year's Eve schedule all planned out.

"I promised my kids weeks ago that I would take them to Taipei today. We watched the parade and went to do some shopping before the concert and fireworks," he said.

The party, however, didn't end after the countdown, as the popular rock band, May Day, sent the crowd to new heights with a concert lasting until sunrise.

Hoping to avoid a repeat of an accident two years ago, when a woman who had taken part in the New Year festivities was injured after falling down an MRT station escalator because of overcrowding, MRT station staff were asked to closely monitor crowds.

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