Happy New Year, Toronto! Thousands greet 2016 at Nathan Phillips Square


Fireworks lit up the night sky at Nathan Phillips Square on Thursday as the last few minutes of 2015 ticked away and Toronto ushered in a new year.

Thousands danced and cheered at the city’s annual New Year’s Eve party as Toronto said goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016.

For some, going to Nathan Phillips is a New Year’s tradition. Others were attending for the first time. Mariel Aguilar usually celebrates the night with her parents, but this year they both were in Mexico, so she decided to come downtown to celebrate.

“I’ve been wanting to come for the past years, but I didn’t have the opportunity,” Aguilar said.

A performer dances with a hula hoop on fire during New Years celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square.

Carlos Osorio

A performer dances with a hula hoop on fire during New Years celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square.

Others, like 10-year-old Rabia Ikram, at the square with her mother and three siblings, have been partaking in the festivities for years. The family has rung in the New Year at the square since Rabia was born, though she’s only made it past midnight for the last two years.

“I like seeing the lights and everything. They [keep] me awake,” Rabia said.

Though the occasional dusting of snow fell on the packed crowds through the evening, the weather played along. Some in the crowd jammed into alcoves trying to escape the chilly wind, while others danced to music playing from the stage to fight the cold.

The crowds swelled as DJs Mel Boogie, P-Plus and Starting from Scratch took the stage and played out the last hours of the year.

The Lubelski family, who usually celebrate the New Year with friends at Lake Simcoe, found themselves alone this year, so they took their daughter Hanna skating.

“This year everybody had something else happening, so we decided we were going to do something [as a] family,” said Lisa Lubelski, Hanna’s mother.

Keyavonna Dees was visiting her friend Amanda Fonpanilla from Tampa Bay, Fla. Dees said Toronto’s version of New Year’s Eve was more exciting than what she was used to in Florida.

“It’s lit. I love it. I love Toronto. I’d really rather live here,” she said.

The two admitted they had no idea who was going to be performing on the stage, but they wanted the prime spots anyway.

“[Dees is] not going to be here for a long time, so we were just like ‘let’s get the best of it,’” Fonpanilla said.

Of course, the party doesn’t have to stop after the ball drops. The last trains on all four lines depart between 3:30 a.m. and 4:07 a.m. After that, the Blue Night line of buses and streetcars will continue running until the TTC begins again at 9 a.m.

If you need to make a last-minute dash to the shops on New Year’s Day, the Eaton Centre and a few other malls will be open, as well as movie theatres and tourist attractions.

With files from Ramisha Farooq and David Bateman

01/01/2016 01:01  By: TORONTO STAR