Hundreds of thousands turn out for Lunar New Year fireworks

Hundreds of thousands turn out to watch Victoria Harbour's annual fireworks display

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 February, 2013, 11:33am

The Year of the Snake hit the city with a bang last night with 4.5 tonnes of explosives fired off in the fireworks display above Victoria Harbour. About 340,000 people watched the fireworks at the peak of the display, police said, most of them on the Kowloon side.

"What's that? It's all big and wriggling about. It looks like a snake!" said Ian Ting Yi-sun as he watched the display from the front of the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.

The six-year-old, perched on his aunt's shoulders, was among the revellers bidding farewell to the Year of the Dragon.

"I hope for good health and for Hong Kong to have less negativity and political tension," said Amy Yu, a housewife.

At the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in Causeway Bay, seven young cancer patients and their families were bundled up and sat out at the patio, as part of an outing organised by the Red Cross Hospital Schools.

"The fireworks here are like they're flying in my face. The last part was the best," said Lam Yi-ning, 11, whose brain cancer has recently gone into remission.

Her mother, Phoebe Chan Ching-yee, said the children gained strength to fight their disease through such activities. "Going out makes them more confident," she said. The club has been providing the children with a front-row seat, away from the crowds, for several years.

Safety measures were ramped up for the display, following lingering concerns after the Lamma ferry disaster that claimed 39 lives at last October's National Day fireworks. Police were on every corner near the harbourfront, while 22 Marine Department patrol ships and 109 officers conducted safety inspections of ships, about a third more than were deployed on October 1, the department said.

At 8pm the fireworks went off without a hitch, moving through traditional songs, Mando-pop and Gangnam Style, to Katy Perry's Firework. At one point, a laser rendition of South Korean rapper Psy, beamed onto the side of the Cultural Centre, danced to the beat of his hit song. After the final bars of Perry's pop hit rang out and the smoke cleared, the crowds moved back into the city.