As in the rest of the world, hundreds of thousands people in the Czech Republic went out into the streets, to welcome the first day of the New Millennium. While in Prague and Brno the celebrations were relatively calm, in the town of Olomouc and in several other places, several people were badly injured. Alena Skodova reports:
Prague welcomed the new millenium with the biggest ever firework display in the country's history. The bonanza cost over 1,5 million crowns and it had to be transported by three fully loaded trucks. In most of the country the celebrations focused on town squares, and fireworks were preceded by all sorts of events to entertain the public. President Vaclav Havel himself took to the streets on New Year's Eve. He started at Hradcanske Square near Prague Castle and later on accepted an invitation from the Prague Mayor Jan Kasl and took part in more official celebrations in Prague's Municipal house. There were thousands of foreign visitors in the Czech capital: which was attributed to the low price of alcohol and the relative tolerance of the townsfolk, who also joined in the fun. Prague's Wenceslas Square around midnight was described by some newspapers as something between a huge rubbish dump, a shooting range and a vast bar, where champagne was flowing in streams and dancing people were surrounded by dense smoke.
Policemen, firemen and first aid ambulances say that this time celebrations were much calmer than those held last year. However, there were many serious injuries, mostly due to unprofessional manipulation with home-made fireworks. An 18 year old girl in the North Moravian town of Olomouc was taken to hospital with serious burns, after her jacket was set on fire from a stove that heated a huge tent where a disco was going on.
Obstetricians did not have much rest, either, as everybody was waiting for the first baby to be born in the new millenium. The "race" was won by Lukas Bulava, a baby boy born only 15 seconds after midnight. Lukas was born in the North Moravian town of Trinec to one of the hospital's nurses, and both he and his mum enjoy good health. Each Czech child born on the first day of the new millennium will get 10 thousand crowns from the local town hall.
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