It’s said that Montrealers will always find an excuse to party.
That’s probably one of the reasons why organizers did not want to scale back the massive New Year’s Eve party planned for the Old Port on Sunday night — even if -27 C is forecasted for that night, not including the wind chill.
“Naaah, you crazy?” said executive chef Aaron Klein as he set up at Marché Bonsecours for the event. “This is Montreal, we never stop.”
Severe cold weather has gripped much of the country for the last few days. That’s forced the reduction of some New Year’s activities in some cities, like Ottawa. But Martin Durocher, co-founder of Merry Montreal, the organization responsible for putting on the party, has no plans to scale back.
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“We know cold weather,” he says. “I mean, we’ve seen – 20s before. People, I mean, they don’t stop living. They still go play hockey, they still go cross-country skiing, so why not come party with us?”
He says they are taking several precautions to make sure people are kept safe. The stage will be heated to keep the performers warm and there will be several heating stations around the stage where the audience can seek refuge from the cold. They’ve even rented space at Marché Bonsecours that can hold 600 people, for those who need to warm up.
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“From 7 p.m. to two in the morning, we’re gonna have this venue as a warm-up zone for everybody who’s too cold,” he said.
There will be paramedics on hand, but organizers are urging people to look out for each other and watch for frostbite.
Events kick off Sunday at noon at Marché Bonsecours with a 15,000-meal banquet for free.
Klein and his team have been preparing and he says there will be meat tourtière, mini tourtières and traditional pea soup, among other dishes.
From 6 p.m. onward, there will be a series of shows until close to midnight, when there will be an illumination of the Jacques Cartier Bridge, different from what was done this summer, followed by fireworks.
The festivities continue until 2 a.m.
But this is more than just about the New Year. It’s also the closing party for the city’s 375th anniversary celebrations.
Another reason, Durocher says, they didn’t want to cancel anything.