Village hosts a successful First Night event
A serious stabbing in Alpine Meadows marred what were otherwise peaceful New Years Eve celebrations throughout Whistler as revellers ringed in 2004.
An 18-year-old Whistler teen was rushed to the Whistler Health Care Centre and then to Vancouver General Hospital after he was stabbed twice in the chest around 2:30 a.m. on New Years Day.
"For a while we were rather concerned because he received some fairly substantial injuries and theres always that fear of the worst thing happening," said Whistler RCMP Staff Sergeant Hilton Haider.
"But anyway he pulled through OK.
"It was an unfortunate incident that sort of just materialized, like they normally do."
Police said alcohol and drugs were a factor in the stabbing but highlighted the fact that it was an isolated incident and not a random act of violence.
A 21-year-old Whistler man was charged with aggravated assault and was released from custody with strict conditions. He is scheduled for a court appearance next month.
Police would not release any more details about the stabbing at this point.
In addition to some detentions in connection with the stabbing, police also arrested 39 people in and around the village for disturbing the peace or excessive intoxication on New Years Eve. Still, compared to previous years, Haider called the 2003/04 celebration a success.
"It was from a policing point of view a non-event," he said.
"Our arrests and detentions were way down from previous years... At one time we were up over 100 arrests."
Haider said most people are finally getting the message that there is a zero tolerance policy in Whistler for First Night.
"The events in the village were absolutely fantastic," he said.
"It was one of the more enjoyable First Nights that weve had."
This sentiment was echoed by event organizer Maureen Douglas of Mo Ideas Management, who has been key to promoting and producing First Night in Whistler in recent years.
"This was the lowest level of drinking Ive ever seen," she said.
"There was no open alcohol on the site. We saw virtually none. People were really there for all the right reasons."
Preliminary estimates suggest that roughly 4,000 people participated in First Night. The youth area, particularly the Groove Lounge with its DJs and talent shows, was one of the most popular spots, along with the Lids and Lanterns craft tent. This tent was so popular that they ran out of 3,000 plastic lantern tubs over the course of the night.
"We could have done with more volunteers for sure and thats something that well just keep working on year after year," said Douglas.
"The good news is the more we have locals participate, the more locals realize this is something really fun."
Despite the communications campaign warning people there would be extra police in the village and at the Fitzsimmons bus loop to seize any alcohol, police wrote well over 100 liquor tickets for open liquor in the village over the course of the night.
"I think one of our greatest challenges, especially in the village, is with the high concentration of timeshares and condos right in the village," said Haider.
"A lot of people came out of the condos... at the crack of midnight. Thats when we saw a lot of intoxicated people.
"But there were no real problems."
There were no problems either at the busy taxi loop where some people waited up to an hour for a taxi.
The road checks were also successful this year, positioned north and south of the village. Four drivers received 24-hour suspensions at the roadblocks and one man was arrested and charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking marijuana. He had well over 100 grams in the car at the time said Haider.
Police and event organizers will be working on a different strategy for next years First Night because it falls on a weekend and more visitors will be expected in the resort.