Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life led Shanghai's celebrations on the famous Bund last night to greet the reunification. Workers, retired teachers, schoolchildren, army personnel, and party officials flanked the Huangpu River to celebrate. Senior officials led by party secretary Huang Ju and Mayor Xu Kuangdi showed up minutes before 9 pm to take their seats at the VIP stand, to the cheers and applause of their supporters. Behind them sat the city's 'model workers' of past years - including Xu Hu, the plumber honoured by the authorities last year for his dedication to service to the public. The celebrations in song and dance were launched at 9 pm by Chen Zhili, deputy party secretary who, like the senior leaders, was dressed in a red T-shirt printed with the Chinese characters 'Welcome Hong Kong's return, praise our great motherland'. Vocalists took turns to sing 21 songs, starting with a familiar refrain - 1997 - which had been played repeatedly over local TV stations and radios in the countdown to the handover. Retired teacher He Zhiqiong, 70, one of the singers, said: 'This is an occasion I cannot miss, so I volunteered to join the chorus.' Officials made sure revellers and singers did not just celebrate the handover. Through the songs, they were also singing the praises of the Chinese Communist Party. Although the official celebrations ended at 10 pm, tens of thousands of spectators still milled around the Bund, waiting for the 10-second countdown to midnight at Huangpu Park.