Germans ring in 2011 with a bang

More than a million people gathered at Germany’s largest New Year’s party in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on Saturday night to ring in 2011 with a fireworks spectacle.

Germans ring in 2011 with a bang
Photo: DPA

Some 120,000 rockets lit up the sky over the German capital at midnight. The 15-minute show by the light artist Gert Hof show was accompanied by the vocal stylings of tenor Paul Potts and David Hasselhoff, who reprised his appearance from two decades ago with his hit “Looking for Freedom.”

“We weren’t sure whether we should look at the fireworks or the stage,” said visitor Sven Wilkens.

Rebecca Kollhoff from Nuremberg proudly showed off pictures of Hasselhoff on her digital camera.

“We stood right up front for six hours,” she said. “It was the experience of a lifetime!”

Revelers packed the city’s main New Year’s party, causing the police close the area by 11 pm. The huge turnout kept the authorities busy all night – rescue services had around 180 calls only near the Brandenburg Gate.

The authorities were called to 1,568 incidents over the course of the evening in Berlin, where residents appear to reprise the Red Army’s bombardment of the city each year. Several people were injured in two separate apartment fires. Two girls, seven and 17, had to be hospitalized.

In Bad Reichenhall in Bavaria, a woman died in a fire suspected to have been started by a sparkler. In Gaißach near Bad Tölz, a 33-year-old man died after trying to create his own firecracker with gunpowder.

The authorities in Hamburg reported the number of injuries caused by fireworks rose from last year, with several serious burns and maimed hands. The fire brigade and rescue services made nearly 1,100 calls in the northern port city.

The police in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia counted 3,374 calls – down by nearly 1,000 from a year earlier. Most incidents involved injuries, noise complaints, vandalism and fire, according to state police.


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