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millennium plans

By Loreth Beswetherick Up to 20,000 people expected to flood the village for First Night celebrations this year, but ask around and you will be hard pressed to find any locals planning on attending the event. Being residents of a resort town a good chunk of the population is working New Year’s Eve. Either that or, like the local constabulary, the firefighters, senior municipal personnel, health care workers and other essential service staff, they are on stand-by ready to deal with anything from a loss of power in sub-zero temperatures to a riot. And, if a quick survey of some Whistlerites is any indication, the rest of us are hunkering down at home, away from any Y2K madness. Some are leaving town. And it would seem the rest of North America is doing the same. According to a Time Magazine and CNN poll released this week, 72 per cent of Americans plan nothing special for New Year’s and only 21 per cent intend to leave their homes that night. Just eight per cent said they plan to spend more than $300 US on New Year’s Eve events. Those results seem to gel with some Canadian polls which indicate seven out of 10 plan on ringing in the millennium at home. Mayor Hugh O’Reilly is one of them. He will however, be attached to a radio in case he needs to exert his mayoral authority and read the riot act to rabid revellers. He may also be needed to authorize a variety of other contingency measure in the event of an unforeseen Y2K disaster. "I have special powers under the municipal act in case there is an emergency," said O’Reilly. "So I have to be in contact." But, the mayor does not buy into the New Year’s Eve frenzy in general. "I think the New Year’s period is way over rated. I am not one who is going to buy into the big millennium concept. I am more interested in being with my family and maybe some friends." Last year, for example, O’Reilly and wife Patti had a perfect time. "We went skiing out on the Nicklaus North golf course. We just went out the door and we took a small bottle of champagne and watched the fireworks. It was a nice evening... very cold. The moon was out and you could see fairly well," said the mayor. "My guess is people are just going to hunker down and spend time with family." Well, that is what Charlie Doyle will be doing. The long-time Whistlerite has had his fill of manufactured New Year’s celebrations, especially this year with the cost of them. "My days as a musician did it for me," said Doyle. "I have no plans this year." He hasn’t stocked up on special champagne, candles, bottled water or tins of tuna either. "I am not too concerned about Y2K and I wouldn’t go anywhere near the village from past experiences. Usually we do the family thing at home. Last year we went cross country skiing at Lost Lake." Paul Burrows will also be staying out of the village. "I will be home guarding the house," said Burrows. "We don’t usually go out on New Year’s anyway, unless we are away." Burrows did however plan ahead and stock up on champagne "quite a while ago when there was quite a selection of the stuff." And by that he means the real stuff. Party planner Linda Marshall will be party planning. She is stage managing the Chateau Whistler event and will spend Dec. 31 blowing up balloons for local bars and nightclubs. "I’ll be working from 5 a.m. until about 2 a.m.," said Marshall. "I have a crew of about 20 who will be working really hard. We will celebrate Jan. 1." For Marshall, this New Year’s event will simply be business as usual. She has been blowing up balloons on the last day of the year for the last 10 years. "And, I am going to carry on through the millennium because, hopefully, I will be here after the millennium." Stephen Vogler, who has seen his fair share of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Whistler, will also be working. He will be ringing in the new year at Dusty’s, at the same time celebrating Dusty’s last New Year’s Eve before it makes way for bulldozers and new development at Creekside. His band, The Hounds of Buskerville, has a gig and they will be prepared for any Y2K eventuality, said Vogler. But, he is not divulging any secrets. Prior to the event, the Voglers will be gathering with friends, family and band members from Vancouver for a long lunch before dropping the kids off at the grandparents and continuing the festivities at Dusty’s. Vogler said one of his favourite times, when not working that special night, was a six-hour long dinner with friends and lots of talking eating and drinking. Connie Rabold, who has been busy of late fielding media inquiries on the status of Y2K at Whistler, will be indulging in a "very early" dinner before floating around the village and perhaps taking in the conference centre event. But, according to Anthony Catton, a.k.a. DJ tone, there is nothing in the village to attract the ‘locals.’ "I would like to see a big party and a big bonfire go up in parking lot 8 — that’s the one at Base II on Blackcomb. "It would be for all the people who work New Year’s who, after they have done the cleaning up, have nowhere to go. It would keep people out of the village." Catton said he is currently talking with Intrawest about his idea. "There are a lot of people who think its a good idea because there is nothing for anybody here this year, you know, unless you want to go to a bar and hang with a bunch of rich tourists on this special New Year’s. It would be nice to have a community thing that is not over by 2 a.m." Catton said the only alternative is lots of house parties in the subdivisions. "But, I think we are going to do this somewhere anyway. We will be well behaved and there will be a lot going on in town. We will be taking that focus away from the village." He said his friends all feel the same way and don’t have plans. Most work, he said, and don’t want to head home right away. "There is nothing much for them. They are, like, I don’t know what I am going to do, maybe I will climb the mountain and just hang outside." Kristin Robinson however, is getting way out of town and heading for the family farm in Ontario to hang with her grandparents and play Pictionary. She says her grandma cheats but she can take it. No stranger to the Whistler party scene, Robinson said she can’t afford a local Y2K celebration. "I am going to take the whole crazy time out of here. Tell everyone I will miss them and will be thinking of them and if they want me to work next year feel free to call." Robinson said none of her friends are heading into town to plunk down a wad of cash but she knows some musicians who are probably making a bunch of money. "I think everyone is really intimidated by the village from a price point of view. I think it’s going to be a quiet New Year’s for locals. That’s the scary thing... you spend a lot of money to go to a bar and you look around at midnight and you have to neck with a whole bunch of people you don’t know... and I have to pay for that? Come to think of it, perhaps that’s not so bad. Maybe I’ll try next year." Traditionally Robinson would head up for Fresh Tracks with her mates on the crisp morning of a fresh new year. Perhaps that may not be a bad plan. The mountains are anticipating a low turnout Jan. 1 this year — maybe 15,000 to 20,000. Even if the lights do go out, Whistler-Blackcomb will open. The mountains have 13 lifts that can operate on backup non-electric motors. Glacier Creek can run on gas and offer a minimized menu. The Roundhouse can also be open. The Rendezvous would have vending machines working but the Crystal Hut would be closed in the event of loss of power. Tickets for the day will be pre-printed. They may however, be unable to scan passes.

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