Monday, September 21, 2015

The Time I Started the Sydney New Years Eve Countdown

Starting the New Years Eve Countdown

I swear on my Grandmother that what you are about to read is the truth - totally, unequivocally and undeniable on all levels.

It's ok, you don't have to believe me - nooone does! In fact the only person who does believe me is Amelia, the girl who makes up the other part of this story and can, for obvious reasons - vouch for me and my seemingly far fetched story.

starting the new years eve countdown in sydney

So This is What Happened...

It was New Years Eve 2002. The Sun was shining.... wait, no it wasn't. It was like 10pm and I remember wading my way through a sea of revellers, following my girlfriend Amelia as she attempted to keep up with her entourage.

I'll never forget the feeling of claustrophobia that rushed over me as I realised that I was standing with 13,000 other people on the Cahill expressway - the roadway that runs above Circular Quay train station and provides ones of the best vantage points in Sydney to view the fireworks, not to mention providing uninterrupted views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Well when I say uninterrupted I mean, EXCEPT FOR THE 10,000 HEADS IN YOUR FACE!

Girl, Uninterrupted.

So there we are standing on the Cahill Expressway on New Years Eve surrounded on all sides by a surging crowd of excited and tipsy revellers, all anticipating the moment when the countdown would start and the fireworks would follow.

The time was 11pm.

I suggested we find somewhere else to stand as we had somehow ended up literally standing in the middle of a roadway, with no ability to lean on anything, sit down or move for that matter. It wasnt that bad though, because I was well aware that most of the fireworks happened  UP - and there were no heads in my way when I looked that way.
I could still see the Harbour Bridge but the Opera House was lost through a sea of jackets and rowdy revellers.

It was now 11:50pm

Even if I had convinced Amelia to move with me, it was pointless now. with 10 minutes left until 2003 reared its ugly head I knew we were stuck well and good and may as well enjoy the show.

My clock read 11:53.

Be Careful What You Wish For.

Gawwwdddd its taking so long! I have no patience, and the thought of waiting another 7 minutes was driving me insane.

I jokingly suggested to Amelia that we start the count down early. I mean seriously - 7 minutes of waiting?!?! She laughed and said why not. I laughed back and said "because I wouldn't actually do it hahahahaha -"

Amelia however doesn't think like me....

My watch said 11:55pm

The New Years Eve Countdown Begins

At precisely 11:55pm by my watch (which hindsight must imply was slow by 4minutes) Amelia screamed out "10"
I laughed along with her and said "9"
Unfortunately for us, so did about 100 people directly around us.

I decided not to say 7.
Amelia did though.
And so did about 1500 people around us.

By the time the countdown reached 4, I swear that at least 50,000 people had joined in the countdown.
The countdown echoed across Circular Quay and down to the sea of people standing at the Opera House. They too joined the countdown.

By the time it reached the 3 - 2 - 1 but the entire city had joined in the chant.

I waited with the guiltiest look on my face, waiting for the inevitable moment that Sydney got to zero and nothing happened.

But Something DID Happen.

To my surprise and complete shock - when the city of Sydney reached 1 and paused, the fireworks on the  bridge, and all the way across the city exploded in a cascading explosion of colour and light.


What?! How did that work? I was dumbfounded!

Looking Back 

I've thought about that 2002 New Years Eve on many occasions and each time I am drawn to the same conclusion. I could be wrong - I most probably am - but I like to think this is how it was:

My clock was a few minutes slow. So although I claimed to start the count down 5 minutes early, I was probably only 2 minutes at best.

When the powers that be heard 50,000+ revellers counting down to a midnight firework show slightly ahead of time they said "Stuff it, noone knows exactly - just hit the switch already - we got 50,000 people bloody counting down damnit!"

I smile at that idea - because wouldn't it be nice to know that one person could make such a difference on New Years Eve in Sydney.

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