Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Get ready for a very cold New Year's Eve

Forks preps for chilly celebration

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After basking in highs of -1 Celsius at mid-week, the weather in Winnipeg on New Year's Eve will take a turn for the worse.

"We're going to see a drastic change," said Lisa Coldwells, an Environment Canada meteorologist. Coldwells said Arctic winds and up to four centimetres of snow are forecast for Winnipeg.

"It's going to be a bit of a cool, nippy New Year's Eve," she said. A high of -22 C and north winds of about 20 kilometres per hour are forecast.

On Friday night, thousands of people will bundle up and descend upon The Forks to bid adieu to 2010 and say hello to 2011 under the miraculous fireworks show that has become an end-of-year staple in Winnipeg.

Once again, the gigantic New Year's Eve fireworks show will be the main draw for Scotiabank Family New Year's Eve which will be the official sendoff to Manitoba Homecoming 2010.

Harsh weather can sometimes enhance the pyrotechnics, said Kelly Guille, owner of Archangel Fireworks.

"I love shooting in the dead of winter," said the expert behind this year's "fire in the sky."

"The drier and colder the better, because it makes for a louder crack and more colour.

"If we can set up without freezing our fingers off, the weather will actually help the show."

"Snow affects us like it affects anybody else," said Guille. "Wind could be a factor, but snow isn't going to hold anything on the ground. The biggest issue could be if road crews couldn't get us to the site."

Crowds can expect the same quality and variety this year as last, he said.

"It will be a more traditional show this year, but the effects combinations, colour combinations, and locations will be different than last year," said Guille. Expect 400 shells, and a few thousand launches, he said.

"We get our budget six to eight weeks ago, and then I start designing," said Guille.

This year, Guille and his team will be launching their explosives from the old train bridge, the roadway back to the South Point of The Forks, and the riverbank.

"As always, the show will be made for The Forks crowd, so if you're standing on the Main Street bridge, you'll miss the lower level of the show."

The fireworks get underway at 10 p.m.

The annual celebration usually attracts 30,000 people throughout the day, said Clare MacKay, spokeswoman for The Forks.

This year's events will be extra-special as they cap off the year-long Manitoba Homecoming 2010 party, The Forks' chief operating officer Paul Jordan promised in a prepared statement.

"The official sendoff is just part of what we've got planned for this spectacular evening."

With some nasty weather expected, though, audiences might be swayed to stay home and watch Dick Clark instead of braving the cold to see a fireworks display.

The Arctic wind is expected to howl from Friday to Sunday, but the snow should let up by Sunday, Environment Canada said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 29, 2010 A4

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