Three proved to be the charm for EVE.
The Downtown Alliance-sponsored New Year’s Eve celebration, in its third year of being a three-night event, ended Saturday night with the greatest crowds it has ever experienced, from thronged houses at Temple Square’s Tabernacle to a packed Salt Palace Convention Center.
While final numbers were not available, there were four times as many participants on the first night of EVE than the similar night last year, and on the second night there were twice as many participants as the same night last year, said Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance.
"This year’s been wildly successful," he said. "It’s off the hook."
"It’s been a pandemonium of joy," said Jeffrey Berke, producer and creative director of EVE. "We knew it would take three-to-five years for an event to develop a following, and mature."
Adding to the lively spirit was news that hotels around downtown Salt Lake City where EVE was staged benefited from the large turn-out. According to the Alliance, more than 1,200 hotel packages were sold in tandem with EVE, compared to 860 last year.
While the Salt Palace is the epicenter of EVE, other venues participating reported record attendance. At the Clark Planetarium, tickets for all four of its cosmic lights show were spoken for by 7 p.m., even though the last show of the evening, Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon," didn’t begin until 11 p.m. And at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, scores of people stood in line to sing "Ring of Fire" and "Bulletproof" at its karaoke machine, and pre-teens flocked to DIY art projects.
"It’s been a great three days," said Adam Price, executive director of the museum formerly known as the Salt Lake Art Center.
At the Off-Broadway Theatre on Main Street, Orem residents Andy and Becca Goodyear said they had found about EVE after Andy Googled "New Year’s" and "Salt Lake City," and he told his wife that they should go. "I asked him if it was inside," said Becca, who according to her husband wears jackets in the summer. Apparently, the relatively warm temperatures on Saturday night convinced her to come, as well as thousands of other people who skipped last year’s EVE because of the snowstorms.
Nearly 500 people attended Laughing Stick Improv Comedy shows at the Off-Broadway Theatre Friday, with many more expected Saturday night, said Sandy Jensen, one of the founders of the comedy troupe and theatre. "Actors love the EVE audiences because the audiences are crazy and ready to party," she said.
Neil and Sharon Peay of American Fork participated in EVE even though they hadn’t bought, and didn’t know about, the $15 wristbands that allowed admittance to all EVE-related events. The couple was leaving the musical production "Savior of the World" at the Conference Center Theater when they noticed a lot of activity at the Tabernacle. The Peays wandered in — ushers were not checking for wristbands — and once they learned that one of their favorite singers was about to perform, decided to "take off our coats and watch Thurl [Bailey]," Sharon said.
The event appeared to run smoothly, although there was evidence of EVE being a victim of its own success. Besides the aforementioned early sell-outs at the planetarium, by 9 p.m. on Saturday there was a long line of people waiting to get beyond the entrance to the Salt Palace because of security guards checking for contraband. But with fireworks expected at midnight and beer tents inside, no was too upset.
After all, it’s hard to have a happy new year when the end of the prior year isn’t happy.
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