Happy New Year, Everybody. I have to admit that 2013 was a pretty good one for me. This blog has done well, of course, but more importantly than that, my family was basically healthy and safe. I’d say it was a year with a few good things mixed in with a lot less bad than we’ve had in the last few years, so I’ll take it. I’ll hope for at least the same mix this year.
For me, the New Year’s Eve celebrations downtown were sort of a tale to two celebrations. Market Square and the surrounding areas were filled with revelers and general craziness which started early. I walked though the Square about 8:00 PM and the buzz was growing pretty loud. Lots of shouting and ice skating and loud music filtering all around. To my eyes, it appeared to be an out of town crowd in to celebrate for the night.
I had a great time in homes scattered around downtown, which is how, I suspect, many downtown residents chose to enjoy the night: at private and semi-private parties in different people’s homes. I enjoy both – mixing it up on the square with thousands of people is pretty exciting. It’s a little crazy and a little crazy can be fun. Still, on a cold night, there’s something appealing about being warm with friends and having good food and drink while you wait for midnight.
We ended the night, as you can see from the photographs, in the home of good friends who also have a very awesome view of the square. I suspect it might be a bit like having box seats at a stadium for a football game, though I’ll likely never know if that is an apt comparison since that is way beyond my pay grade. The luxury of enjoying the event while partaking of the amenities mentioned above – as well as very nice things like a private bathroom instead of a port-a-potty was well appreciated by all.
By the time midnight approached the crowd had swelled to nearly fill the square with the exception of the ice-skating rink – which was pretty packed itself when I checked early in the evening. We noted the embarrassment of the backwards countdown display and wondered if the ball would fall on time this year since it was late last year. Turns out we needn’t have worried: It started to drop a full two minutes before midnight. Our group was screaming, Nooooooooo!” but it dropped anyway, arriving at its stopping point a bit early. It must be a pretty hard feat to manage.
Unlike the lighting of the Christmas tree which, as I noted in an earlier post, was followed by an awkward silence, this time fireworks exploded and, in what may be the coolest touch of the night, a Chinese lantern floated, flaming, into the night sky above the city. I took a photograph, but it looked like a dot in a sea of darkness. Extra points to whomever thought of that one.
I do have to be honest and note that all was not well. The crowd trended young and rough looking. There were lots of sagging pants, bared chests, yelling and confrontational behavior. I heard there was a fight on Market Square. A group of young people flooded into the lobby of the Arnstein, which is locked, meaning they must have followed someone inside. When they were asked to leave, they questioned the authority of the person talking to them, but left after the person said he was a resident.
On our way home, Urban Woman and I witnessed a confrontation that appeared to be headed for a fight with lots of angry yelling and a guy throwing his jacket onto the street as he appeared to be ready to fight a large group. He didn’t have a shirt. There were no police to be found which seems very strange to me. Surely there were plenty on the Square during the event, but by 12:45, just a block away, I couldn’t see one anywhere.
For next year, I would strongly suggest more police presence well past midnight. There really should not be a spot that close to the center of the action where a policeman could not be found. It was a very strange feeling, for me. I walk all around downtown and much further afield than I’m talking about, here. I sometimes can be found on foot well after midnight and I’m never afraid. We need to make sure that is the case every night of the year and some nights appear to require a bit more work to keep it that way.
Still, as far as I know, everyone got home safely and a lot of people had a tremendous night. I hope each of you had a good celebration with as much excitement as you desired. It’s a new year, now, and I hope it is a great one for each and every one of you.