First Night calm, cool and collected
The last night of 1994 and first few hours of 1995 were relatively calm as a tight net of security around the village and chilly temperatures combined to keep New Year's Eve revellers calm, cool and collected.
According to Calvin Logue, municipal director of bylaw enforcement, First Night 1995 went off without a hitch and the party was the "best ever" since Whistler moved to control New Year's Eve celebrations. Two arrests for public drunkenness were made under Whistler's new nuisance bylaw.
"Six years ago it was a free-for-all in the village, it was a no man's land," Logue said. "By 3 a.m. the village was littered with inches of broken glass and some store windows had been broken."
This year Logue deployed 17 bylaw officers and 65 one-night event security people as all entrances to the village were turned into manned checkpoints and event staff looked for excessive drunkenness and alcohol. Special one night staff were also riding on transit buses to assist drivers if any problems arose.
Logue said a co-ordinated effort between the municipality, the WRA and Mountain Community Health Alternatives combined to make the event a success.
"I am very proud of the bylaw enforcement officers and the work they do, as well as the help of all the locals who looked after the various gates in to the village," Logue said. "As far as I am concerned, if every year could be like this one, we wouldn't have any problems at all."
Two locals manning gates for the night were Pique staffers Dave Rigler and Glen Watson.
"A few people were tossed out and a couple of fights were broken up outside the gate," said Watson, who was working at the village entrance by the taxi loop.
"People were very friendly, even after they found out the conference centre stopped selling tickets at 10 p.m. and they couldn't get in," Watson said.
"We seized a lot of alcohol because people didn't seem to know that alcohol was not allowed in the village, and those who did try to sneak it in weren't doing it very well," he added.
"The overall feeling of the event staff and superiors was that the evening had gone extremely well."
Watson had to turn down a serious bribe from some Californians who wanted to enter the First Night fray.
"Four people came up and really wanted in the village and were willing to pay me $30 each to get in," Watson recalls. He turned the offer down.
According to Whistler Transit, the evening went very well except for a couple of incidents.
Whistler Transit Manager Les Habkirk said a bus, on its last run at 4 a.m., was broadsided by a vehicle after the bus turned on to Highway 99 at Whistler Creek. The bus driver and 25 passengers on the bus were not injured.
The vehicle which collided with the bus was driving without lights and the driver may be charged with impaired driving, Habkirk said.
Another bus received a broken windshield and door window when a scuffle broke out between the driver and some passengers in Alpine Meadows. Habkirk said the driver was preventing a passenger's skis from being taken. The driver was uninjured.
"He's a big guy," Habkirk said.
According to Logue, the incident involved a number of youths, but dispatched bylaw officers could not track down the group.
"There were nine of these little rats involved," he said.
Habkirk said there is no way to estimate how many people used public transit, and added the buses were very full.
"The buses kept moving them and they didn't have to wait long."
At Food Plus 24-hour grocery store in Whistler Creek, there were no incidents even though the store had its busiest day of the year.
"We didn't have any problems. there were lots of people, lots of partiers, but no crowds gathering," owner Jerry Marsh said.
Marsh credited the cold weather and the presence of RCMP and bylaw officers for the quiet night. He said most people were buying snacks, cigarettes, soft drinks and breakfast items.
At Subway the only problem was the huge number of people using the washrooms, according to manager Brian McConkey.
"The washrooms are trashed, but not due to vandalism. They're all plugged up," he said. McConkey estimates 1,000 people used each washroom judging by the number of sandwiches sold and volume of people in the restaurant.
There were no other public washrooms available outside Village Square, although portable toilets were in the square. The conference centre was closed for a private function and the public washrooms underground were locked.