Toasts were made and a cannon was fired as almost 200 Niagara-on-the-Lake residents rang in the new year at the Lord Mayor’s Levee at Navy Hall.
The annual soiree sees the hall reception open to anyone who wishes to stop in, offering punch for both kids and adults.
As is tradition, NOTL’s town crier Thomas Pekar addressed the crowd before the cannon was lit.
“For those who contemplate revelry, please note the following insights from your sheriff: Life is too short, break some rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly and laugh with abandon. Do not feel guilty for anything that puts a smile on your face. By the powers bestowed upon me as town crier, I declare today 2020 NOTL New Year’s Day. Huzzah, Huzzah, Huzzah,” he proclaimed.
NOTL resident Gus Koroneos brought out his whole family to join in the celebrations.
“It’s really nice, you know, nice festivities, all the dignitaries here and the cannon firing is always nice for the kids,” said Koroneos.
While the cannon was quite loud, he said the kids were prepared.
“They plugged their ears,” he added.
“The most important part about what we’re doing here today is we’re having fun,” said Pekar.
The festivities kicked off on New Year’s Eve with an “unofficial levee” at the clock tower, which Pekar also spoke at.
More than 200 people gathered to watch the clock strike midnight.
Pekar said he and Lord Mayor Betty Disero are aiming to get the clock tower bells to ring for 2021.
“We’re trying to organize with (the lord mayor) to get the bells in both the Court House and the cenotaph to ring,” he said.
This year they couldn’t make it happen in time, so Pekar brought his town crier bell down to the steps of the courthouse.
In true NOTL fashion, he addressed his “lordships, worships, parsnips and fish n’ chips” before giving a similar speech to the one above.
“We welcome our neighbours from all Niagara. Compassion we practice; we have welcomed and accepted refugees from gridlock and grind, the many new refugees from the GTA who have watched too many episodes of Green Acres and come to settle in NOTL, where all is serene and idyllic and boring. For my Muppet fans, it is the season of the hearty, a special time of caring, the ways of love made clear. And it is the season of the spirit, the message, if you hear it, makes it last all year.”
“We just started a new first event,” Pekar said.
The privilege of lighting the cannon is auctioned off each year via a donation to Friends of Fort George.
With the money raised, “we underwrite the employment of high school students to work with Parks Canada. This year I believe it was 14 high school students,” said Pekar.
“All guys like to blow stuff up, make big noises.”