Parties, picnics usher in New Year in Kolkata

Kolkata, Jan 1 (IANS) The dipping mercury notwithstanding, the people of this West Bengal capital partied in style and enjoyed picnics at popular tourist spots to celebrate the start of the New Year.

The Alipore Zoo received thousands of visitors Wednesday, and lengthy queues of devotees were seen snaking up to the popular Dakshineshwar Kali Temple since dawn.
Young and old alike wished each other amid midnight revelry that included cultural programmes, music from disc jockeys, and a wide array of food and beverages in various restaurants and hotels.
Hundreds stayed out the entire night, strolling with near and dear ones at the hep Park Street. Prinsep Ghat was abuzz with tourists and locals who enjoyed the view of the night sky.
The skyline was dotted with pyrotechnical display that continued till daybreak.
People exchanged greetings and sang to ring in 2014, huddled around bonfires and draped in woollens to beat the chill.
As the morning wore on, the celebratory atmosphere remained, and families packed into vehicles, driving away and camping at picnic spots in the suburbs.
Office-goers rejoiced with colleagues, even though many took the day off.
With the city wrapped up in holiday mood, children had a gala time at amusement parks and cinema theatres.
To ensure there was no threat to the city’s revellers, police made elaborate security arrangements, putting up watch towers and CCTV cameras at strategic locations to keep a hawk’s eye on proceedings.
Besides deploying male and female security personnel in uniform and plain clothes, at least three radio flying squads, including an all-women’s team, was pressed into service.
The police has been studying footfalls, crowd behaviour, crime patterns and traffic problems from previous years, and will preserve this year’s CCTV footage for future reference.
The police will also be in constant touch with restaurant, bar and hotel owners to ensure that any confrontation inside an establishment is immediately reported, a senior officer said.
The police used air surveillance too during the year-end, between Dec 30 and Jan 1, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) patrolled the city sky. Live feeds were provided to the city police headquarters, offering information vital to crowd management and traffic control.