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An artist’s conception of Vancouver’s planned New Year’s Eve celebration at Jack Poole Plaza. (Handout)
An artist’s conception of Vancouver’s planned New Year’s Eve celebration at Jack Poole Plaza. (Handout)

Vancouver plans first city-backed New Year’s Eve event in two decades – but not this year Add to ...

“No Fun City” is cautiously planning to have fun at the end of next year.

Vancouver will host a large New Year’s Eve celebration at Jack Poole Plaza on Dec. 31, 2014, the city announced on Thursday. It will be the first city-backed New Year’s Eve event in more than two decades. 

The free, family-friendly event will include live music, fireworks and children’s activities – similar to annual Canada Day celebrations – as well as a televised countdown at midnight.

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Mayor Gregor Robertson joined officials from the newly established Vancouver New Year’s Eve Celebration Society in announcing the party at Thursday’s media event.

“Every year, in late December, the messages start flooding in, the questions come up: Why don’t we have a New Year’s Eve celebration?” he said.

“Now we will. It’s waiting a little bit longer, but it is coming.”

Kenneth Chan, deputy editor at Vancouver news, lifestyle and entertainment blog Vancity Buzz, set the wheels in motion about a year ago when he sent friend and blog editor Karm Sumal a lengthy e-mail about hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration.

“I was like, ‘This guy is serious,’ ” Mr. Sumal said. “He had looked at funding, what we need to do, who we need to talk to.”

The two spoke with Gregory Hegger at brand.LIVE – the event production company behind the Celebration of Light fireworks competition and the Squamish Valley Music Festival – and created the society, which now counts the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, Tourism Vancouver and other organizations among members.

At Thursday’s event, Mr. Robertson thanked Mr. Sumal for his “spark and initiative in getting this going.”

“If you have any ideas for the Broadway subway, we should talk,” the Mayor said to laughter.

It’s not yet known what the event will cost. Brand.LIVE will develop the budget over the next few months and “go to different community groups and stakeholders to match that budget,” Mr. Hegger said.

Mr. Robertson said council will consider the city’s share once a proposal is prepared.

“Typically, with other big festivals, the city has support in the hundreds of thousands,” he said. “A lot of that support is in kind, to make sure the event is well-run and managed on the street. It depends on the scale of the event as [it] rolls out and attracts other sponsors. The city is only one of many partners in this.”

It is believed the last city-backed New Year’s Eve event took place in 1992, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Called First Night, the family event included road closures, fireworks, musical performances and crafts and an early countdown for children, said Paul Sontz, manager of cultural tourism for Tourism Vancouver. First Night ended that year for financial reasons.

Since then, Tourism Vancouver has received countless letters from residents and visitors alike inquiring about New Year’s celebrations, Mr. Sontz said.

“Out here on the west coast, we’re one of the last cities in the world to celebrate the turning of the year,” he said. “Now when the media turns to Vancouver, we’ll have a New Year’s celebration worthy of this city.”

Follow me on Twitter: @AndreaWoo

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