SCMP Monday, October 2, 2000

Burst of nationalism draws 420,000


About 420,000 people gathered along the harbour last night to watch the fireworks show marking National Day.
With conditions ideal - a clear sky and slight winds - crowds flocked to the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai to enjoy the $3.5 million, 23-minute show.
The result drew mixed responses from the crowd. "It's more or less the same as last year," said Heyley Tse, a mother of two girls.
But Naughton and Ena Morgan, from London, found the fireworks more interesting than in the United Kingdom. "They have so many colours and so much noise," said Mrs Morgan.
The show was one of several celebrations held throughout the day to mark the fourth National Day since the handover. A tourist from Darwin, Australia, said it was a pleasant surprise to watch local culture and arts in the middle of the business district. "I'm enjoying myself, this is quite good," said Janie Verall, 46.
The celebrations began with the official flag-raising ceremony at 7.40am at Bauhinia Square, outside the Convention and Exhibition Centre, where about 600 guests joined Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang. Helicopters bearing SAR and China flags flew overhead.
Hundreds of onlookers attended the ceremony, including Aberdeen resident Betty Wong Lai-keung, 39, her husband and two children. "My children have never seen anything like this, and I want them to understand the importance of a flag and what National Day means," Ms Wong said.
Chan Fong, 74, has attended the flag-raising ceremony every year since the handover. "I have come here every year because I love to see the flag being raised - it's a happy feeling."