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AC35: Historic moment is shared by thousands

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Thousands flocked to festivities on Front Street last night to welcome the arrival of the America's Cup.

Residents of all ages came together to share in a historic moment for Bermuda — and soak up the party atmosphere.

Gombeys, live music and a spectacular fireworks display entertained the crowds of locals and tourists.

“Hold on to that and never lose it,” spectator Lionel Smith advised a female tourist, handing her a celebratory flag as the Bermuda Regiment Band came up Front Street.

After a cheering welcome, the Cup known as the Auld Mug — 3½ feet tall and weighing 36 pounds — was reverently carried up to a podium at the Flag Pole, with the sloop The Spirit of Bermuda moored behind it.

A triple-cannon salute boomed over Hamilton Harbour, where earlier in the evening a throng of youngsters in sailboats were put through their paces.

“I brought my grandson to let him know what's happening,” said Tanya Smith, with six-year-old Dakayo Leverock. “He likes swimming, so maybe one day he might get into sailing.”

The West Pembroke Primary student was one of thousands of schoolchildren who earlier lined Bermuda's roads to cheer on the America's Cup motorcade.

Crowds packed along Front Street, Burnaby Street and every balcony with a view as a beaming Premier Michael Dunkley told the block party that sailing was “how we were discovered, it's how we survived, and how we thrived”.

Taking his cap off to the crowd, the Premier then said that Bermuda had been selected to steward “the most prestigious yachting trophy in the world”.

Police estimated that at least of 2,500 people showed up for the spectacle, which culminated in a dazzling fireworks display over the harbour.

A drone circled overhead, capturing the memorable sights.

“Curiosity,” said one onlooker, Kathy, when asked what had brought her out for the night.

“I'm always curious about what's happening in Bermuda. I didn't know about it; I just came out to listen.”

Many others said they had come out to learn more of what the America's Cup stood for.

“I know what port and starboard is,” admitted David Gibbons, who was with his wife Lindsey, their four-year-old son Noah and three-year-old niece Riley, who covered her ears when the crowd cheered.

“I'm just excited to see it,” Ms Gibbons said. “It's something new that will hopefully bring a lot of money into Bermuda.”

As the band struck up Bermuda is Another World, an ecstatic Rosie Stowe said: “You hear that? We've been on the map for a long time but having this here is going to let the world know about us.

“The atmosphere here tonight is unbelievable. It's fantastic.”

Carlton DeSilva added: “It's a really nice setting to come to — and the weather's been nice. I'm just here to watch the events.”

Sitting with three flags in her hand, an enthusiastic Venetta Dill said: “Everybody's happy. It's such a good thing to come to Bermuda. It's a first time for Bermuda and this will bring business to Bermuda.”

As the H&H Gombeys performed before the stage, Pat Haycock said that her grandchildren had come along for “the excitement, the whole thing — they were very keen”.

“We have a sailboat of our own here,” she said.

Her daughter, Sarah Haycock Tafur, attended with husband Daniel Tafur and their children Natalia, seven, and five-year-old Alejandra, who both sail with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Ms Haycock Tafur said the family home, by the waterside at Soncy Bay, Fairylands, would offer them an excellent view of the racing around the Great Sound in 2017.

“I can't wait for it,” she said.

After fireworks thundered over the harbour at 7pm, fire dancers took to the stage and the band Working Title swung into action.

The celebratory mood poured into the bars and restaurants.

Gathered with friends at the Hog Penny restaurant and bar, a euphoric Patrick Leyne told The Royal Gazette that “Bermuda being awarded the America's Cup is a unique opportunity”.

“The Island will get to showcase its natural beauty; all the excellent vacation spots,” he added. “This Island has a chance to become huge from this. I have faith. The Island is going to pull through and accomplish something amazing.

“Bermuda's going to crush it.”

[naviga:iframe src=http://albumizr.com/a/5uw frameborder=0 allowfullscreen width=600 height=300][/naviga:iframe]

Lighting up the sky: fireworks over Hamilton Harbour delight young spectators last night as thousands gathered to mark the milestone of Bermuda being awarded the America's Cup (Photo by Akil Simmons)
The America's Cup Presentation on Front Street featured lively performances by the H&H Gombeys troupe (photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Edward Christopher, the Hamilton Town Crier, waves his Bermuda flag (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
A young boy gets into the spirit of the America's Cup celebrations last night. (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Crowds on Front Street enjoy the celebrations (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)
Flag wavers on Front Street last night (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Premier Michael Dunkley addresses the crowd (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Rockfire Bermuda perform during the America's Cup celebrations (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published December 04, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 04, 2014 at 12:30 am)

AC35: Historic moment is shared by thousands

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