Hong Kong Limits New Year’s Eve Fireworks over Protests

People gather as fireworks light up the city's skyline marking the New Year celebrations in Hong Kong on January 01, 2019 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s Tourism Board announced on Wednesday that the city’s fireworks display on New Year’s Eve, traditionally one of the more eye-popping displays around the globe, will be severely curtailed due to security concerns around ongoing protests.

“Rather than the traditional barrage of fireworks, this year’s New Year’s spectacle will be a souped-up version of the city’s nightly “Symphony of Lights” skyline display ([cough] lame! [cough]), along with some pyrotechnics fired from the roofs of two skyscrapers,” Coconuts Hong Kong groaned, with editorial coughing presented as originally written.

Protesters are evidently planning large demonstrations for New Year’s Eve, greatly increasing the size of the already enormous holiday crowds. The fireworks are normally launched from a barge, so the pyrotechnics themselves do not appear to be a concern, just the crowds and the potential for chaos in the streets.

The South China Morning Post saw the cancellation as the latest in “a series of hammer blows against the city’s ailing economy,” which is already reeling from a loss of over 50 percent in tourism.

The SCMP noted several other tourist-friendly upcoming events have been canceled, including the Clockenflap music festival, the Hong Kong Tennis Open, the Wine & Dine Festival, and the Lunar New Year parade later in January, which will be replaced by a carnival.

The Tourism Board said it is preparing an online advertising campaign to revive tourism by touting discounted travel, shopping, and accommodations. The campaign will be called “Hong Kong Is On,” a name that would probably provoke another fit of coughing from the editors of Coconuts Hong Kong.

Adding to the woes of New Year’s Eve revelers, Hong Kong’s MTR rail service announced that it will add more trains for the evening but cannot guarantee passengers access to transportation, implying that some of it’s stations could be unpredictably shut down by protests. This possibility prompted Hong Kong Disneyland to cancel its New Year’s Eve Countdown Party in late November and offer refunds to its disappointed guests.

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