CANBERRA, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- In spite of the heavy smoke on Thursday, thousands of people turned out to watch the largest city cruise in Canberra, which unveiled the annual Summernats car festival.
As the first major event to usher the Australian capital into the new decade, nearly 500 cars rumbled by in the main avenue of Australian capital at midday in the opening ceremony of Summernats 33, Australia's most iconic automotive festival which runs until Sunday.
Spectators lined up the street, although according to local media, Canberra's air quality is the worst out of any major city in the world on Thursday.
"What a fantastic opening day for Summernats," said Andy Lopez, Summernats co-owner. "Even though Canberra is currently dealing with bush fire smoke, we had a huge number of people pour through the gates this morning, which just shows you how much Summernats means to everyone that attends and uses it as a chance to come together, show off their cars and share their passion during a horsepower holiday."
Many people who went to the streets for the City Cruise put on their masks, including reporters and photographers of some Australian media. But Emma Stone didn't.
Stone, in her 40s, told Xinhua that she has come to the event since she was 13, and both her and her son love cars.
"It's a good thing for Canberra to have, you know, started the New Year with all the new cars and with the passionate love," she said.
When asked if the smoke affected people's love for the event, she said "not for car lovers".
Unlike Stone, old couple Clare and Wayne Fuller was brought to the event by bushfires.
"This is our first time (to the event)," said the granny. "We live in Alice Spring. We came to go down to the coast, but with the fires, we can't. This is just an added bonus of staying in Canberra."
The pair love cars and had been to the Red Center Nats, the central Australia's version of Summernats, quiet a few times.
Wayne Fuller said the parade was "very beautiful, with some very expensive cars". "That's a great event for ACT (Australian Capital Territory)," he said. "I hope to see more."
While Clare said the city cruise marked a great start of the year, "especially with everything that's going on." "It's just nice to see people out enjoying themselves," she said.
However, not all people in Canberra are passionate about Summernats this year, and many took to social media to criticize the event.
"#Canberra currently has the worst air quality in the world," tweeted Luke Rogers. "The country is burning, the air is toxic, and #Summernats is currently cruising up and down my street!!"
Another Twitter user nicknamed CouchBurningMan wrote, "#canberra has some of the worst airquality due to #NSWbushfires yet the #summernats burnout competition is still on with finals on Saturday. The world really is totally screwed."
The burnout competition is at the core of the Summernats festival, when cars do all the tricks of smoking, swirling and tyre burning.
"Ten years ago #summernats cared about air quality," tweeted Tim Richards. "I hope you care enough to be responsible..." he said. "Please cancel the burnout competitions."