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The Globe and Mail

Vancouver’s first NYE party has high global standards to live up to

Gregor Robertson: (Picking up the phone) Hello?

Penny Ballem: You watching this?

GR: Uh huh, Anderson looks great, huh?

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And that Kathy Griffin cracks me up. Can you believe the handcuffs? So funny.

PB: I don't know how Anderson Cooper can hold on to one shred of credibility after this. But that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the parties – huge parties, not just in New York but in London, Sydney, Rio, Moscow, Nashville, New Orleans, Hong Kong …

GR: Yeah, I know. It's so cool. I can hardly wait 'til next year when we finally have one of our own!

PB: Seriously? Are we looking at the same thing? It's mayhem. Streets packed with people having a good time, loud music, alcohol being carried in open containers, personal space being violated, people kissing – and the fireworks?

Don't get me started about the toxic, carcinogenic soup all of those happy onlookers are inhaling right now, not to mention the heavy metals that end up in the water.

You're supposed to be the green mayor, Gregor.

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GR: Yeah, I know. But c'mon, Penny – lighten up! Even I can get behind it for one night.

Hey, did you hear that in London you can eat the confetti?

And the bubbles are orange-scented! Why didn't we think of that?

PB: That's exactly my point, Gregor. After seeing all of this, what do you think the citizens of Vancouver are going to be expecting from this little party of yours 364 days from now? Did you see Dubai and Taipei shooting fireworks off of the world's tallest skyscrapers? Or the laser show on the Great Wall of China? Or the fireworks off of the Sydney Harbour Bridge? If you think I'm signing off on anything like that, you're nuts.

GR: I know, but I mean, we have to do something cool. We don't have any super-huge skyscrapers but we do have the Lion's Gate Bridge…

PB: …Which is a provincial highway. Unless you're spelling out L-N-G in blue flames, forget about using it as a launch pad.

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GR: So we'll do them off barges the way we usually do. I mean, it's Vancouver. People's expectations can't be that high, right? We round up a few food carts, a few street entertainers and a couple of bands and bam! We have a party. Pretty sure I can get Marianas Trench or Trooper or Loverboy or somebody. As long as no one riots, we're gold.

PB: Have you even thought about what all of this is going to cost? Or who's going to pay for it? The cost of security alone will mean an additional tax increase of 1.28 per cent. Do we have sponsors that you haven't told me about waiting in the wings? Is there someone like Nivea ready to hand out big foam top hats?

GR: Yeah, those are cool, eh?

PB: This is going to be the first real New Year's Eve party the city has had since… since… I don't even know when. What did we do for Y2K?

GR: The police told everybody to stay home.

PB: Right! Exactly. So expectations are going to be huge. Do we even know what's going to happen at midnight?

GR: What do you mean?

PB: New York drops the big ball, New Orleans lowers a fleur-de-lis, Nashville drops that big musical note – what's Vancouver's thing going to be?

GR: We're lighting the Olympic cauldron. I'm pretty sure that's going to be our thing. I mean, I think we light it for the early countdown.

PB: What early countdown?

GR: The one we're doing for families with small kids. We have two countdowns. The first one is at, like, 7 or something.

PB: You're kidding, right?

GR: Do you really think we need something at midnight? I guess so, huh. Listen, there's plenty of time between now and then to strike a citizen's assembly and throw around a few ideas. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking we drop a stainless steel appliance or a Bixi bike or a Car 2 Go – you know, something that really screams Vancouver. Oh, hey, switch the channel! There's some old guy playing piano and singing Billy Joel songs. Oh and hey, I know a guy who can make edible confetti – he makes it out of kale. I'm texting you his deets right now.

PB: Goodnight, Gregor. Happy New Year.

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