New Zealand Welcomes 2000

The small island is the first industrialized country to ring in New Year

(Everything2000) Thousands gathered in fog and drizzle to watch fireworks explode over Auckland's harbor as New Zealand makes history. It is the first industrialized country to enter the new millennium and did so with a bang!

At midnight the sky lit up with an explosion of fireworks that were a bit muffled in the drizzle, but didn't dampen the festive atmosphere. The party will continue all day long. A series of ceremony will featured New Zealand's indigenous Maori people. That includes "Haka" war dances and a reenactment of legends on the sacred Mount Hikurangi, which is about 200 miles east of Auckland.

A cast of 1,000 hosted a three-hour outdoor performance in Auckland. The show depicts major events of the past 2,000 years, from the birth of Jesus Christ to the present day. Handel's " Messiah" was also performed.

Because New Zealand is one of the "first" to welcome the New Year you can expect a lot more "firsts" from the island. Like the "first " millennium baby born. A little boy was born in Auckland at 12:01 at the Waitakere Hospital. The family didn't want any other information released at this time.

It is New Zealand after all, so in a place known for its bungee jumping you have to have the "first" bungee jump of the New Year. Henry Van Ash jumped from a bridge in Queenstown making history as the "first" to bungee jump into the Year 2000. Queenstown is the place bungee-jumping was invented.

Source: Associated Press

DATE: 12/31/99

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