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Welcome in 2016 at Court Street festival

Court Street takes centre stage tonight, ushering in the new year with an open-air street festival to which the entire community is invited.

Organisers told The Royal Gazette that the Uptown New Year's Eve block party, covering several blocks and their surrounding roads, had come about through a feat of diplomacy.

The Corporation of Hamilton, the Bermuda Government and the Governor, George Fergusson, were among the collaborators, along with the Young Progressives community group.

Court Street will become a pedestrian zone from Victoria Street up to the stage at Tills Hill, where DJs will test their skills in an “old school clash”.

A fun zone along Dundonald Street will cater to youngsters, with a zip line set up on Court Street, and area vendors offering cuisine. But pulling the party together came with an urgent sense of mission, according to promoter Cleveland “Outta Sight” Simmons.

“It's going to be an experience that everybody needs to come out for,” Mr Simmons said.

“Our country has been in despair, and we are looking to repair it, going into the new year with a new idea of how to address our social problems.”

Gladwyn Simmons, another of the event's numerous organisers, said it had been “an exercise in diplomacy” that sprang from Mr Fergusson's walking tour of the area this year.

“We know that truly collective effort is going to be important in healing social wounds, and we have done a lot to set the stage moving forward,” he said.

“It's going to be an ‘outta sight' night.”

Michael Markham, of the Young Progressives, said he had been highly impressed by the calibre of the area businesses after meeting with them.

“The business community here is almost like a well-kept secret,” he said.

The north end of Court Street will close this morning for the stage to be set up, and from 4pm the area north of Victoria Street will be closed to vehicles.

Supporting the theme of “unity in the community”, councillor RoseAnn Edwards likened the street festival to the start of a renaissance for the area.

“She felt we could use this as a model to show all the potential that we've got in North Hamilton,” said Antonio Raynor, a co-organiser. “Closing off the street is a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to traffic, but businesses are excited.”

The festival gets under way at 9pm, with Gombeys joining the celebrations at midnight and the countdown to be marked with “a different sort of drop, which we will keep a surprise”.

There is no licence for the consumption of alcohol outdoors, Mr Raynor said, urging visitors to come and enjoy Court Street's own establishments instead.

DJs on the main stage will include Eric Trott, DJ Jaybird and Malcolm “Lethal Weapon” Smith, but the block party, which runs officially until 1am, will offer music for residents and visitors young and old, he added.

Meanwhile, in the East End, St George's will ring in 2016 with its own festivities, to be held from 8.30pm in King's Square.

Organisers have cautioned visitors to be mindful of the Swing Bridge, which is open to one lane of traffic only.

Festivities will catch the last of the recent fine weather, with windy and colder conditions forecast for the weekend.

• To learn more about tonight's events on Court Street, visit www.uptownbermuda.com

Party planners: organisers, from left, Mike Markham, Gladwyn Simmons and Cleveland Simmons. The countdown to midnight will be marked with “a different sort of drop” to the traditional onion drop in King's Square (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

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Published December 31, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 31, 2015 at 8:30 am)

Welcome in 2016 at Court Street festival

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