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How would you like to spend New Year's on a tropical beach with the Pope?

That’s what is happening tonight to the 2 million people preparing to party on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach.

The Pope in Brazil during July 2013
The Pope in Brazil during July 2013
Image: AP/Press Association Images

POPE FRANCIS HAS recorded a video message at the Vatican offering New Years greetings to two million revelers, including around 800,000 tourists, preparing to party on Rio’s famed Copacabana beach.

The message, which will be broadcast as the city also celebrates 450 years of existence, “will be presented just before the traditional midnight fireworks display,” a Rio city hall spokesman said, confirming that it had been received Monday.

“Dear Brazilian people, it is with great joy that I address you on the eve of a new year marking the start of celebrations commemorating 450 years since the foundation of the city,” the pontiff will tell revelers.

Fireworks 

The New Year fireworks display will see 34,000 rockets and 24 tons of fireworks launched on the stroke of midnight from 11 boats anchored 400 meters from the shoreline.

The fireworks will also include letters and figures, forming the slogan “Rio450″ in the night sky.

In the video, the pope says he is greeting “at such a happy moment the beloved ‘Carioca’ people.”

Tradition 

Many Rio locals, nicknamed Cariocas, will dress in white and make a traditional offering of garlands of flowers to Yemanja, goddess of the sea in the Candomble Afro-Brazilian faith.

With Brazil entering high summer, temperatures were Wednesday hovering around 40 Celsius and no rain was forecast ahead of the celebrations.

Rio city authorities have drafted some 3,600 police to maintain security along the 4.5-kilometer beach.

When the pope, from neighboring Argentina, visited Rio in July 2013, some three million people gathered in Copacabana beach for a mass which closed a Catholic youth festival.

© AFP 2014

Read: Pope Francis: “Truly there are so many tears this Christmas”

Also: Pope Francis accuses Vatican officials of power lust and gossip in Christmas speech

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