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October 2, 2009

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Rain didn't dampen city's patriotism

SHANGHAI celebrated National Day yesterday with flag raisings, music, dancing, games and fireworks - mostly under raincoats and umbrellas, in contrast to Beijing's mega-parade below bright blue skies.

While the heavy rain that soaked the city the entire day put a stop to some celebration events, it didn't seem to spoil the holiday mood and patriotic enthusiasm evident at the activities that did take place.

Shanghai finally got a bit of luck when the rain stopped just before separate fireworks shows lit the skies in Zhabei, Xuhui, Yangpu, Minhang, Baoshan, Songjiang and Qingpu districts at 8pm.

"Pouring rain spoiled a lot of the excitement planned during the day, but fortunately we didn't miss the highlight, the fireworks," said Zhang Yihui, a college student who watched the pyrotechnics in Zhabei District.

Zhang's chief regret was the cancellation of a show in which a three-unit police helicopter squad was supposed to fly a 7-square-meter national flag past the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and along the Huangpu River. The rain also caused some events at local parks to be scrapped.

Early in the day, crowds flocked to People's Square, Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall and the under-construction 2010 World Expo site to watch soldiers raising the national flag.

At Century Square on Nanjing Road E., more than 1,000 people began their day by joining the first flag-raising ceremony in the 10-year history of the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall.

Parade broadcast a hit

"I'd like to take some photos of this wonderful ceremony even though it is raining," said Herbert Renz, a 62-year-old South African citizen who came to the city with his wife for the National Day holiday three days ago.

Outdoor screens showing live telecasts of the military parade in Beijing also proved to be magnets for tourists and passersby.

Most locals watched from the dry comfort of their homes. A survey by Fudan University's media research center found that 85 percent of Shanghai residents were glued to their TVs during the two-and-half-hour parade.

The number of tourists wandering around the city dropped to 5,000 people yesterday morning, compared with the 7,000 to 8,000 who usually show up on the first morning of a week-long holiday, according to the local tourism authority.

"Main scenic spots had remarkably fewer visitors yesterday than last October 1, partly because of the bad weather, and partly because residents preferred to watch the military review ceremony on TV in the morning," the Shanghai Holiday Office said in its daily report.

But not all the numbers were in decline yesterday.

The railway passenger volume broke the single-day record set on May 1 to reach 266,500.

The number of long-distance bus travelers soared to 65,000 people at the Shanghai Long-Distance Bus Terminal, triple the daily average.

People who tied the knot yesterday also increased. Nearly 890 couples signed up for marriage certificates in the city, double the daily average. It was also about 200 more than last October 1, according to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

"This is a brand new start for the country and us," said Su Aili, a bride who picked up her marriage certificate in Hongkou District yesterday morning.

"We'll work hard along with the country to establish a prosperous family."


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