For many people, Christmas is a season of reunions, celebrations and get togethers, but the biggest party night of the holidays is undoubtedly New Year’s Eve. December 31, 2017, was no exception. From New York, to Sydney, to Ottawa, and to Niagara Falls, the world celebrated with epic light displays, live music, and fireworks, to name a few.
Australians were some of the first to welcome 2018. In Sydney, over one million people were crowded around the harbour to watch the midnight fireworks. Unfortunately, the thousands gathered at Terrigal Beach, less than 100 kilometres away from Sydney, experienced a much less exhilarating and celebratory fireworks display. Only a few minutes into the 9:00 p.m. show, the beach was thrown into chaos as an explosion on the barge caused the fireworks to go off at random, some of which headed towards the beach. The barge itself caught fire. Two pyrotechnicians jumped into the water for safety, and were later treated for minor injuries. The organizers of the event, It’s Time for Terrigal, stated in a Facebook post that they believe a canister explosion on the barge was the cause of the incident. The beach was evacuated as a precaution, and no one was seriously injured.
New Years Eve in Times Square did not disappoint this year. 2018 marked the 110th “ball drop,” which has come to be a global symbol for ringing in the new year. The party was accompanied by musicians including Mariah Carey and Andy Grammer. An estimated two million people packed the streets of Times Square to watch the event in person, and millions more tuned in to live streams of the celebration.
The big story in the Northeast for this New Years was the record breaking temperatures. In New York City, the temperature was a biting -12 degrees, and it felt like -20. These temperatures are the second lowest on record, falling second to 1917’s frigid -27 with the wind chill. In Ottawa, the prospected temperatures caused several of Parliament Hill’s New Year’s events, which were also planned as a closing to Canada’s 150th birthday, to be cancelled. The cancellations included live music performances, and the Canada 150 youth hockey tournament was moved from the rink on Parliament Hill to an indoor rink. The fireworks display went ahead as planned. “Of course it’s a bit of a disappointment with this extreme cold weather but we have to deal with it and making sure that Canadians are safe and everything is well taken care of in terms of public health we decided to modify the celebrations,” said Heritage Minister Melanie Joly. Temperatures fell to -24 degrees, and a record low of -28.6 was set for New Years Day, beating the previous record of -27.2 set in 1947.
In Niagara Falls, thousands of people were packed in Queen Victoria Park to welcome 2018. The event featured two fireworks displays, as well as a live music lineup including James Barker Band, Jess Moskaluke, Simple Plan, and Marianas Trench. Although this party was not scaled back because of the cold, it was not forgotten by the organizers. Attendees were cautioned to dress warmly, walk around to generate body heat, and to routinely move indoors in order to warm up. Additional medical personnel were on site as an added precaution against the frigid temperatures. Niagara Falls reached a bone chilling -24.7 on New Year’s Eve, and felt colder due to its proximity to the water.
It appears as though Niagara celebrated New Years safely. Niagara police made no arrests at RIDE checks in Welland or Niagara Falls. They noticed a high number of designated drivers or alternative methods, such as taxis, being used for safe transportation.