New Years Eve with the Reds in Chiang Mai.
It was a well organized event at the 700 year Stadium on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city.
Despite competing with numerous other New Years Eve events, like the Thepae Gate public celebrations and a large Fair less than a kilometre away, there was still quite a crowd of well behaved red shirt faithful.
Many had made the trip from the villages and had set up tents outside the stadium to stay over for the night.
I'm hopeless at estimating crowds, so all I could say is that there were several thousand there (definitely more than 8,000 but less than 20,000 IMO - the ground area of the stadium and the grandstand seating areas were 2/3 to 3/4 full in my estimation)
There were also several hundred people outside the stadium area where there were the usual food and red merchandise stalls.
The crowd numbers were even more respectable when you consider it was NOT a free event - the cost of a ticket to enter inside the stadium was 100 baht, which included a red t-shirt with Thaksin image, and a red glow stick.
Much of the crowd were families enjoying the entertainment, and there were no visible signs of alcohol intake (something I found most unusual compared to other New Years Eve events I have attended over the years, but it was also a very pleasant surprise) .
The entertainment was in the form of a concert featuring various politicians and entertainers singing & dancing, including at least one comedy skit where Abhisit was mocked.
The main themes were Democracy and 'we miss Thaksin' or 'we want Thaksin back', and rather than pure entertainment, most of the proceedings related to these underlying themes.
I'm not familiar with all the entertainers/politicians/activists presented on stage, but some of the names I think were involved were Adisorn, Wisa, Paijit and maybe Chuwit (someone more knowledgeable than me may recognise some of the faces in the photo's, and let me know who they are?)
As I need my beauty sleep and wanted to avoid the inevitable traffic jams, I left early and before the planned midnight phone-in from the man himself (who was apparently watching the proceedings from wherever he was).
On the way out, I noticed that the stall with the biggest line up was the sign-up area for new Reds members - this red movement is not going away, and I sincerely hope that, if Thaksin ever does return to power, he has enough humility and good sense, to repay the love and faith that has been invested in him.
Seasons Greetings to all
(Click on photo's for larger image)