SINGAPORE - Loud cheers erupted from merrymakers at the floating platform at Marina Bay, as the clock struck 12 and fireworks of red, green and blue burst onto Singapore’s skyline to welcome 2018.
The beautiful sight, which attracted families, young couples and shutterbugs to the waterfront, was the reward for braving a heavy downpour that lightened slightly as night fell.
Armed with ponchos, umbrellas and tents, revellers said that the rain had inconvenienced them.
But the thought of the light-up, fireworks and good cheer rooted them to their spots.
Librarian Tan Jian Lin, 29, who arrived at the Marina Bay area at about 5pm with his friends, said he did not expect the rain to stretch into 2018. He had spent New Year’s Eve at the waterfront every year for the past five years.
Mr Tan said: “This has to be the wettest New Year’s Eve. It has been raining the whole day. Puddles had formed quite quickly on the mat we brought. It’s hard not to get wet, even with a poncho.”
“I wanted to get a good shot of this year’s fireworks,” he added.
The anticipation for the fireworks built up 10 minutes before midnight when organisers announced that the lights would be turned off in a minute to enhance viewers’ experience. Crowds stood up and gathered closer to the waterfront for a better view of the fireworks.
Despite the inclement weather, some merrymakers who had gathered on the platform for picnics shared their rain gear with others who were not as well-prepared.
Tourist Li Jingyun, 34, shared her umbrella with a family who had a relative in a wheelchair. Ms Li said in Mandarin: “We are all uncomfortable and cold. The least we can do is to spread some good cheer while we wait for the fireworks.”
Others were worried about falling sick.
Tutor May Lee, 32, said: “I’m drenched. I hope I don’t catch a cold tomorrow. That would not be a good start to the year.”
But the rain did not dampened everyone’s spirits. Some people formed up to play human bowling.
Sitting at the grandstand, engineer Tong Kee Liat, 47, said: “There was good food and drinks. And the rain did make the event less crowded. It was really good that there were fireworks every hour. Helped to benchmark the countdown.”
Mr Tong said: “But this year’s show was really beautiful. Worth the wait in the rain.”
Earlier in the day, several outdoor activities planned - such as dance workouts and yoga - were cancelled due to the wet weather.
There was rain islandwide due to a monsoon surge in the South China Sea, with the National Environment Agency reporting temperatures as low as 23 deg C.
In the heartlands, more than 75,000 residents welcomed the New Year at over 40 People's Association community celebrations.
At Nee Soon South, residents were treated to performances and got a chance to pen down their New Year wishes on "wishing balls".
Over at Bukit Batok East, more than 3,000 residents gathered for the celebrations, which included food stalls featuring local favourites like nasi lemak and ding ding candy. The food items were sold at discounted prices and the constituency also worked with Nets to offer cashless payment modes.
A similar "old meets new" theme was also reflected at Our Tampines Hub, where residents could play old-school carnival games, as well as virtual reality games and flight simulators.
For MacPherson, the countdown had an added significance - it also marked the start of a year-long series of events to commemorate its 50th anniversary. Sunday (Dec 31) night saw the launch of the celebratory logo and theme for MacPherson, which was formed on April 13, 1968.
Security was beefed up for countdown parties across the island, following a number of terror incidents overseas this year.
Police officers - including officers from the Special Operations Command, Protective Security Command, Public Transport Security Command and Emergency Response Teams - were out in force at the Marina Bay countdown party, joined by both auxiliary police officers and security officers.
A number of roads in the area, such as St Andrew's Road and Connaught Drive, were closed to vehicular traffic.
Mr Peh Lian Soon, who had been at the Esplanade since 3pm to take photos, said he did not mind the additional security presence.
It's for our own safety," said the 48-year-old assistant director in an education firm.