Free Vancouver New Year's Eve event will feature a heavy police presence

Vancouver police say they'll be out in large numbers tonight as the city hosts its first public, outdoors New Year's Eve event in more than a decade.

Leave the booze at home and plan your return in advance, warn police

It will be one of the largest public events downtown since the Stanley Cup riots of 2011 erupted, but Vancouver police are hoping tonight's New Year's Eve celebrations will stay relatively calm. (file photo/Joanne Chui)

Vancouver police say they'll be out in large numbers tonight as the city hosts its first public, outdoors New Year's Eve event in more than a decade. 

The event produced by Vancouver's New Year's Eve Celebration Society will feature fireworks, live bands, and food trucks at Canada Place starting at 6 p.m.

Organizers of the free event have said it's designed to be a family-friendly atmosphere, which will include a kids' zone and a 9 p.m. countdown for early bedtimes. 

"Obviously, a concern when we have a large gathering in one specific place is making sure everyone is safe," said Sgt. Randy Fincham.

"It's been a number of years since we've had a large scale gathering like this for New Year's in Vancouver and we don't want to blow it.

Vancouver's first public New Year's Eve event in more than a decade will feature fireworks. (Matt Slocum/The Associated Press)

Officers will also be patrolling other parts of the downtown area and elsewhere in the city, said Fincham. 

He warned that people shouldn't make alcohol part of their public celebration, no matter which part of town they're in. 

"Leave the booze at home. We work very closely with Transit Police and SkyTrain officials looking for booze coming into the city," he said. "You can get a fairly hefty fine for drinking in public."

Fincham said people should also plan ahead, so they don't drive home after drinking. 

TransLink is offering free rides starting at 5 p.m. and has extended service on SkyTrain and some buses for the night. 

With files from Tim Weekes

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