SINGAPORE: New Year’s Eve may have kicked off with a wet start, thanks to showers across the Marina Bay area in the late afternoon and intermittent drizzling throughout the night, but Singapore was still all set to ring in the New Year with a dazzling fireworks display over its skyline.
Revellers at the Esplanade Waterfront came prepared with umbrellas, ponchos and picnic mats, undeterred by the elements.
Shutterbugs came with ziplock and plastic bags to protect their cameras and photographic gear as they steadfastly guarded their prime photo-taking spots.
The display was part of the countdown show held at the Float @ Marina Bay titled Star Island Singapore by Japanese entertainment conglomerate Avex Group.
The show featured light displays, taiko drummers, fire performers and motocross stunts with 3D surround sound.
Entry to the show set participants back by between S$38 and S$148.
Those who were not to keen to splurge on Star Island tickets were able to catch the display over at the Esplanade.
They were also able to groove to the numbers by local singer Nick Zavior, thumping batucada beats by Bloco Singapura and a blend of percussion and eclectic tunes by NovoBloco - all for free.
Over at the Promontory, the Mediacorp’s Let’s Celebrate 2019 countdown concert was also free for the public for the first time.
Landmarks including The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, the ArtScience Museum and the Merlion lent their facades for light projections shows throughout the night.
BEEFED UP POLICE PRESENCE
To protect those in the area ushering in 2019, security measures like bag checks, and designated entry and exit points were put in place.
A drone was also officially deployed by the police for the first time.
The unmanned aerial vehicle, which acted as eyes in the air for the police, is fitted with a high definition camera and is able to monitor and capture pictures of the crowd and send them back to command post.
Some 700 police officers also kept a watchful eye on the ground, while police coast guards were on patrol at sea.
More than 20km of fences and barricades were also set up to direct both human and vehicular traffic.
Some 900 tonnes of sturdy concrete blocks were used to deter and block any hostile vehicles as well.
Members of the public respected the security measures by the authorities, following their directions and exiting the party grounds in a safe and organised manner.
CROWDS A BOON FOR BUSINESSES IN AREA
With the area drawing large crowds of hundreds of thousands, eateries around Marina Bay also ushered in 2019 with an early windfall, with some seeing all their tables filled.
Italian bistro Supply and Demand at the Esplanade saw a faster pace of bookings leading up to the celebrations.
The restaurant’s manager, Wu Si Han, said: "The bookings this year were much better than last year, we had a lot of booking inquiries from overseas, way in advance since last month. We’ve had to have more staff to cater to the demand."
Makansutra Gluttons Bay also saw huge crowds, and the food centre said it was not worried about competition from other eateries in the area.
Makansutra founder KF Seetoh said: “We live off each other. Our crowds spill onto them, and theirs spill onto ours. We're a tag team. We've been doing this for 13 years, they know our rhythm and we know theirs and everybody has their instrument to play to create this 'makan' music here at the Esplanade.”
Most eateries in the Esplanade area also extended their businesses hours until 3am on New Year’s Eve.