New Year's event kicks off PEI 2014 festivities

Despite bitterly cold wind chills, a big outdoor New Year's Eve party drew thousands of people to Province House Tuesday evening in Charlottetown.

100s of events planned for year-long celebration of the Charlottetown Conference

Despite bitterly cold wind chills, a large outdoor New Year's Eve party drew thousands of people to downtown Charlottetown Tuesday evening.

The free celebration marked the kickoff of province-wide PEI 2014 events that will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference — the September 1864 meeting that eventually led to Confederation.

Indoor activities included a play zone for kids at the Murphy's Community Centre with music, face painting, balloons, bouncy castles and bowling.

The outdoor events began at 6:30 p.m. at Province House and included music by Rawlins Cross and P.E.I.'s own Meghan Blanchard. The official theme song Forever Strong was also unveiled.

Energy is high for the New Year's celebration, says PEI 2014 executive director Penny Walsh McGuire. (CBC)

Other features included ice sculptures, wagon rides and buskers.

A ticketed indoor concert at the Confederation Centre began at 9 p.m. and featured country singer Johnny Reid, P.E.I.'s Lenny Gallant and More Soul.

"It takes many hands to make something like this come together and we are really thrilled that the night is finally here," said Penny Walsh McGuire, the executive director of PEI 2014 committee.

"I think the energy is really high right now among the events team and we have a great volunteer base tonight to help out with the festivities and ready to welcome lots of visitors and Islanders to the celebration site. "

Dave Panting, a member of the band Rawlins Cross, says playing the outdoor concert will be fun, albeit cold. (CBC)

People had to bundle up for extreme cold with Environment Canada posting a wind chill of -28 C.

Earlier in the day, outdoor concert musicians such as Geoff Panting of Rawlins Cross were warming up their voices, if not their bodies.

"We are playing tonight, yes in the freezing cold. So that will be fun. As long as you can feel the tips of our fingers enough just to find the keys then everything should be fine I think," said Panting.

"So for a while there I sort of felt honoured that they asked us to do it and then I realized nobody else wanted to.  I'm just joking, it will be fun."

While New Year's is the first of PEI 2014 celebrations, there are 150 events and activities scheduled throughout the year in communities across Prince Edward Island.

Summerside will host the final celebration on Dec. 31.


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