The Whistler RCMP are boosting their presence in and around Whistler for New Year's Eve, calling in additional resources from the Lower Mainland to patrol the highway and neighbourhoods in vehicles, as well as to enhance foot patrols in the village. Police dog teams will also be available.
Unlike past years there will not be a highway stop to check that visitors have accommodation booked and to search for underage drinkers and weapons. However, highway patrols will be conducting roadside safety checks to look for impaired drivers and other safety violations.
While New Year's Eve is generally quieter than it used to be in Whistler, the RCMP have a plan for the evening that could include shipping people arrested for being drunk in public to Pemberton and Squamish if the cells at the Whistler detachment get too crowded.
The focus for Whistler is again the alcohol-free First Night celebration, which means part of the village will be closed off from 6 p.m. to midnight on Dec. 31. In order to get into those closed areas you will need a ticket for an event hosted by a bar or restaurant or a ticket for First Night. Tickets are $15 for people 13 and older, and $8 for kids aged 3 to 12. Children two and under are free.
As usual, bus service will be free from 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve to 4 a.m. Jan. 1, encouraging people to leave their vehicles at home. If you're planning to go to the village you need to plan ahead - the bus service will be halted from 11 p.m. to midnight so that a large number of busses will be available after midnight to handle the rush.
Some of the First Night activities include live performances by Five Alarm Funk, Brother Twang and 19-year-old guitar player Scott Verbeek. The Whistler Conference Centre foyer will include a Creative Zone, with arts and crafts and a fairground atmosphere for younger children. For older kids, the Youth Zone of the conference centre features a Much Music Dance Parent, with no one over the age of 19 permitted. There will be refreshments available.
For a complete overview of First Night events, check page 82 in the Arts section.