SUVA, Fiji Islands (Jan. 2, 2000 - Fiji's Daily Post/PINA Nius Online)---Watching the throbbing mass of bodies filling Suva's main street New Year’s Eve, you wouldn't have known that just seven months before a mob rampaged along it.

Victoria Parade was filled with happy people of all races. Long gone were the rioters who looted and burned amidst the May 19 coup at Parliament by indigenous Fijian rebel gunmen led by George Speight.

The happy people, of all ages, races and religions, were attending a New Year Mardi Gras organized by radio stations FM96, Navtarang and Viti FM.

A section of Victoria Parade was closed to traffic from 6:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve to 1:00 a.m. yesterday as dance music blared across the city.

By the time for the New Year countdown, the united mass of dancers was on a high; some people were even dancing on top of their vehicles.

The blazing yellow and white lights of the big Shell Service Station opposite the radio stations' Boom Box were turned off as people counted in 2001. Then amid cheers, hugs, pouring water and hooting of car horns, they were symbolically turned back on.

The supposed alcohol-free party included many drunk but very happy and orderly people.

Children from as young as five and six years old right through to a 70-year-old grandfather all ushered the New Year in, in their own way.

Forgotten were racial differences as dancers formed a beeline, known as the tuiboto, snaking its way throughout the entire dancing area.

The party ended at 1:00 a.m. and reluctantly people began making their way to other parties or back home.

Frank Taukave, of FM96, had earlier said they wanted to give families of Suva a party in a safe environment. The party went without a hitch and there were no police reports of any incidents.

Meantime, Speight and his alleged key supporters continue to be held on a temporary island prison off Suva.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

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