Ex­treme cold to test New Year’s rev­el­ers; some events are iced

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - NATION - BY MARY ESCH

Dress in lay­ers, lay off the booze and bring some hand warm­ers. Those are some of the tips of­fered for the huge crowd of rev­el­ers ex­pected in Times Square for what could be one of the coldest New Year’s Eve ball drops on record.

Bru­tal weather has iced plans for scores of events in the North­east from New Year’s Eve through New Year’s Day, but not in New York City, where peo­ple will start gath­er­ing in Times Square up to nine hours be­fore the fa­mous ball drop.

“Hun­dreds of thou­sands have with­stood very cold weather over the years for a once-in-al­ife­time ex­pe­ri­ence, and we ex­pect this year to be no dif­fer­ent,” said Tim Tomp­kins, pres­i­dent of the Times Square Al­liance, which puts on the event.

The coldest New Year’s Eve in Times Square came in 1917, when it was 1 de­gree at mid­night. This year, the fore­cast is for 11 de­grees with a wind chill around zero, which would tie for se­cond with 1962.

City and state health of­fi­cials are ad­vis­ing peo­ple to cover all ex­posed skin, and wear a hat, scarf and gloves. Drink­ing al­co­hol is dis­cour­aged be­cause it causes the body to lose heat faster.

Ex­tra New York Fire Depart­ment per­son­nel are go­ing to be on hand to pro­vide med­i­cal sup­port, and a National Weather Ser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist will be on site with the city’s emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cials to mon­i­tor weather con­di­tions.

In other ar­eas gripped by the cold, some events are be­ing can­celed or re­con­sid­ered. The an­nual Lob­ster Dip at Old Orchard Beach in Maine has been resched­uled for the first time in 30 years.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the Pen­guin Plunge in Nar­ra­gansett, R.I., said it’s still on for New Year’s Day but ad­vised the thou­sands of ex­pected par­tic­i­pants to “use their good judg­ment” and avoid tak­ing the plunge if they have a med­i­cal con­di­tion or have been sick.

With tem­per­a­tures only ex­pected to reach 9 de­grees in Spring­field, Ill., to­day, or­ga­niz­ers of its an­nual New Year’s Eve fire­works dis­play have de­cided to can­cel this year’s show. Of­fi­cials said they plan to resched­ule it for a warmer date.

De­spite the drawnout deep freeze across Penn­syl­va­nia, of­fi­cials said Satur­day the an­nual New Year’s Day Mum­mers Pa­rade will still be held. The event fea­tures thou­sands of per­form­ers in col­or­ful cos­tumes adorned with se­quins and feath­ers strut­ting through Philadel­phia’s streets.

The vil­lage of Orchard Park near Buf­falo, N.Y., has can­celed its New Year’s Eve event be­cause sub­zero tem­per­a­tures have been fore­cast. “With frigid weather, the chance of a water line break is higher, and I’d rather have my pub­lic works crew fix­ing it than hoist­ing a ball up to drop,” said Mayor Jo Ann Litwin Clin­ton.

At Long Lake in the heart of New York state’s Adiron­dack Park, in­trepid souls in swim­suits or funny cos­tumes will jump into frigid water through a hole cut by the fire depart­ment for the fifth an­nual Po­lar Plunge, a fundraiser for High Peaks Hos­pice.

With tem­per­a­tures ex­pected to top out around 13 de­grees, the res­cue squad will be check­ing par­tic­i­pants’ blood pres­sure and buses will pro­vide warm shel­ter, said Alexan­dra Roalsvig, the town’s di­rec­tor of re­cre­ation and tourism.

“Peo­ple get ex­cited about the cold here; we grew up with it,” Roalsvig said.

“We’re count­ing on a good cold win­ter and snow be­cause we’re so re­liant on snow­mo­bil­ing for the win­ter econ­omy.”

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