First Party of Year 2000

Millennium Island kicks off New Year for the world with a colorful party

(Everything2000) It is the first island in the world to usher in the Year 2000 and it does so with a cultural dance. Millennium Island in the South Pacific was a sea of swaying grass skirts and headdresses welcomed the New Year with a traditional call for good luck.

The tiny island in the nation of Tonga was named just for this event, and the party went off without a hitch. The President of Kiribati , Teberuro Tito, took a burning torch from an elderly man and handed it to a young boy in a ceremonial passing on of time to the new generation. The boy and the man then paddled into the sea in a canoe while singers performed a farewell chant.

Millennium Island was full of activity, pretty unusual for a place that is usually uninhabited. This New Year not only was there a traditional ceremony, there were TV crews filming the whole thing and it was broadcast to billions around the world.

Millennium Island wasn't always known as such, it was actually called "Caroline Island" until three years ago. Kiribati moved the international dateline in 1995 so it no longer bisected the country. The move positioned Caroline Island to be among the first to see the New Year and the island was then renamed Millennium Island in 1997.

Kiribati's neighbor to the west, Tonga, went on daylight-saving time in October, putting it in the same zone as Millennium Island.

Other countries staked their own claims to millennial firsts. Pitt Island, for example, was to be the first ``permanently inhabited'' land to see the millennium dawn. And Wellington was to be the first capital city.

Now that the New Year is underway a variety of "firsts" continue.

A couple in the Chatham Islands; Monique Croom and Dean Braid; held what they believe was the first wedding of the millennium, timing their vows for the minutes right after the stroke of midnight. As each said ``I do,'' a crowd around them cheered and fireworks went off in the background.

And what was believed to be the first baby of the millennium was born in Auckland, New Zealand. A baby boy was born at Waitakere Hospital at 12:01 a.m. New Zealand