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No apocalypse now: At Griffith Park it's not the end of the world

December 22, 2012 |  7:25 am

Bill McCall, an electrician at Griffith Observatory, adjusts a clock at the front entrance. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

At midnight Friday, nothing ended -- except for decade-old rumors about a Mayan apocalypse.

A crowd of about 300 gathered at the steps of the Griffith Observatory at Griffith Park to witness the presumptive end of the world at midnight.

They were families and couples and individuals. Some trekked up from the bottom of the hill after roads leading up the hill were closed. Others were die-hard holdovers from the observatory's special apocalypse-debunking event earlier in the day.

A group of friends, three of them engineers, engaged in lighthearted speculation.

"I secretly hoped there would be more crazy people," said Eason Wang, a mechanical engineer.

His friend, Christine Lazo, laughed.

"Maybe next time," Lazo said.

At 10 minutes to midnight, excitement rippled through the crowd and some ambitious onlookers tried to start the wave. Couples held each other close and sleepy children yawned and rubbed sleep from their eyes.

At five minutes to midnight, someone held an iPad Mini aloft with the countdown. Observatory director Ed Krupp took up a microphone.

He rattled off some statistics: A baktun, a Mayan era, is the equivalent of 5,125 solar years. This baktun, the 13th, began in 3014 BC.

"Many have predicted we would be doomed by this point," Krupp said to the crowd. "We're still here, but maybe something will happen in the Pacific."

At 10 seconds, the crowd took up a countdown and thrust smartphones into the air.

"5, 4, 3, 2, 1..."

Then it all ended with a bang -- but from man striking a large bronze-colored gong, followed by cheers.

The crowd dispersed quickly. One man shouted "Los Angeles, ladies and gentlemen!"

In the distance, the lights of the city shimmered, dreamlike.

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--Frank Shyong

Photo: Bill McCall, an electrician at Griffith Observatory, adjusts a clock at the front entrance. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

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