Eastport was once again the place to be for New Year's Eve fun, and this year people all over the world were able to turn on their televisions and see how it is celebrated in the port city.
"This is the best New Year's Eve so far," says Hugh French, director of the Tides Institute & Museum of Art, which hosts the lowering of the maple leaf and sardine at midnight Atlantic time and Eastern time, respectively. French says there was a great crowd of several hundred to see the two drops "and the best coverage yet, with CNN broadcasting live."
"Having a Canadian Mountie help lower the maple leaf was a first," he says of Constable Brent Dakai, who attended with his wife, Jennifer, and six-year-old daughter, Sadie.
"We really enjoyed it," reports Dakai. "Captain Bob Peacock got hold of me the week before Christmas and asked about having me there to lower the maple leaf, but my wife and I had tickets to the Saint John Sea Dogs hockey game that night. Then he called back and said my daughter could help lower the sardine. That sealed the deal."
The Dakais had such a good time that Jennifer's family in Beaver Harbour want to come to the next New Year's Eve celebration in Eastport. "We're all planning to come over for it again."
French observes, "More businesses and organizations participated than ever before," and Meg Keay, president of the Eastport Area Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Port O' Call gift shop, reports that the crowd was made up of a mixture of Eastporters, Mainers and out-of-state revelers. "They all said they were having a wonderful time. The businesses were open, and there was a lot of activity."
"They thought that the people of Eastport went out of their way to offer hospitality," Keay adds.
From small to large celebrations, CNN has covered them all. This year veteran CNN reporter Gary Tuchman, producer Chuck Hadad and cameraman David Allbritton made it through the first big snowstorm of the winter to be on hand for the New Year's Eve festivities in Eastport. Tuchman summed up the reason for choosing Eastport to be one of CNN's lineups for its evening show, which featured a number of different New Year's Eve celebrations: "There are all kinds of drops around the country," but, he says, the international celebration of both Canada and the U.S. in one location was something they had not heard of being done anywhere else.
The New Year's Eve celebration "is a symbolic time," Tuchman adds. "It's the only international holiday that everyone celebrates." Unfortunately for those not able to be present for Eastport's evening of celebrations and who were watching the CNN show for a glimpse, Tuchman's broadcast was overshadowed by the questionable antics taking place by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's guest host Kathy Griffin. However, those present at Bank Square quickly solved the problem by posting their own photos and videos of the event on social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube.
Earlier in the evening, six short comedies titled, "Life Cycles," were presented by Stage East at the Eastport Arts Center, and many people attended the 7 and 9 p.m. performances.
The Peavey Memorial Library reading room was the cozy site of about 20 readers and listeners who gathered at 5:30 p.m. for the reception launch of the library's "Eastport Recites" CD. The recording features a number of Eastporters reading their favorite written passages, whether poetry, fiction or non‑fiction. Library staff and volunteers embarked on the project in early summer as a celebration of the written word and as a fundraising tool for the library. They hope to make it an annual event.