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An Event-Full Non-Eventful Change of Year

Peace and Non-Stop Parties Prevail as Bali Welcomes in 2003.

(1/6/2003) The Country's President and Vice President, seven members of the President's Cabinet, top named national and international performing artists, and tens of thousands of tourist visitors spent their New Year holidays in Bali in what was officially hailed as an East-West Collaboration of Peace. And, true to its name, massive beach and street parties marking Bali's "good-bye" to what was, by anyone's standards, an annus mirabilis, passed without major incident. Despite dire warnings by foreign embassies of the dangers in celebrating the New Year at local pubs and restaurants, the greatest danger prevailing that Tuesday night was the chance you might not secure a table for dinner in any restaurant in Kuta.

One popular, large Kuta beach-front restaurant reported sales in a single night equivalent to the turnover of the last two months combined. Such was business on the last day of 2002; and, sadly, such was business over the last two months following the October 12th bomb attacks.

Two back-to-back nights of live concerts on December 30 & 31, held at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park and on Kuta Beach, were witnessed by capacity crowds and broadcast to the entire nation via AN-TEVE.

Despite the best efforts by police to divert traffic around downtown Denpasar and Kuta Beach sites of the two open concerts held on New Year's Eve traffic quickly ground to gridlock as crowds began sweeping into the area starting from mid-day.

At the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2002, President Megawati Sukarno Putri ascended the performance stage on Kuta Beach to strike the Gong marking the start of 2003.

In scenes reminiscent of a Brazilian Mardi Gras, the party continued on for thousands until the dawn of the next morning.

Thousands of police in cooperation with volunteers from local village banjar's cooperated to maintain the peace and good feelings among revelers flowing throughout the night. Understandably, their efforts to keep traffic flowing met with considerably less success.

Oh, what a night!