Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all. I hope everyone rang it in well. I know I did.
My flatmates had a party and it was fairly insane. I'm told there were around 200 people at some point. I'm not entirely sure since I drank at least 4.5 liters of beer, which honestly isn't that much over the course of a ten-hour bash.
The party started around 19:00 when our first guests, four Polish people arrived. These people were awesome. The three girls and guy traveled all the way from Krakow just to party in Prague for the night. They left right from the party to catch their train home. To me that is an impressive way to party.
What I was very interested in going to the Old Town Square to check out the insanity I heard was going to happen there. I planned to disappear from my flat party at half-past eleven and check it out. It was not hard to disappear with 200 people around. So I grabbed a Czech photographer who brought her 5D with a 35mm 1.4 to the party and convinced her that the square would make for more exciting photos around midnight. (Post Publication Note: I have been informed, by the photographer, that she is Slovakian not Czech). When we were on our way back to the flat she agreed that the square was more exciting, but decided she didn't need to go back next year.
It turns out the party in the square really just involves a lot of drunk people randomly shooting off fireworks they purchased at the store before.
In my book these were pretty impressive "store-bought" fireworks and they rivaled some of the more "professional" quality ones I've seen. Some one had also set up launch pads around the square for holding bottle-rocket type areal fireworks. I think that was smart because these monster fireworks looked pretty dangerous to hand hold.

As you can see holding fireworks in your hand was not out of the question for New Year's Eve in the square though. As far as I know, this is the universally-accepted method for operation of a Roman Candle. I think you're supposed to stick the thing in the ground and step away after you light it, but I have never seen anyone do that. Roman Candles seemed to be the most popular fireworks around the square and I'm sure I was hit by some flaming debris a few times. I didn't catch fire, so no harm done. You can also see pretty well in this photo all the smoke around the square, it gave things a bit of a magical feel. Magical insanity.

All about the square people were also setting of these boxes of multiple fireworks, they were very poplar as well. As I said there was zero organization to the event. There were however at least four fire trucks, each with an ambulance next to it parked around the square. The firefighters were of course standing on top of their trucks, taking in the show and laughing hysterically. Hey, if you have to work on New Year's Eve and watch drunk people potentially set each other on fire you might as well have a good time.

Evidently those boxes of multiple fireworks get a little slippery. Or maybe the ground was moving too much for this guy. Either way, this is pretty much what the scene looked like with discarded, spent fireworks and liquor bottles littering the ground and drunk people abound.

Here are some of the launchpads I was talking about as well as a person lighting off a pretty large bottle rocket. Evidently he was very excited to see it light off. 

And as with any other fete of revelry there will always be someone who wants to photo bomb you. I know this picture isn't sharp, but this guy's photo bomb was so good I feel he deserves a little play, even if it's in a blog which maybe 20 people will read.

See, he looks pretty happy. Now for a few photos of just how impressive these "store-bought" fireworks were. Incidentally  I have no idea where people where buying these things. In the states there are always tents and such which are set up on a seasonal basis. I heard that people were just buying these at the grocery store.

Most of the activity I saw was happening around the clock tower in the square, it was the least-crowded part of it as well so moving around was easier.

You can see from the clock on the tower that things got going a little early and kept going for a while. I'm not even sure I could hear the bells in the tower when midnight did strike because the explosions were so loud and so frequent. Interestingly though, this is the first New Year's Eve where I didn't hear any gunfire, that I can recall. I think there is a pretty simple explanation for that though.
I think there was also a professional fireworks show at the castle, but I cannot say for sure. On New Year's Day though there was a professional show over the river. I went to that as well, but it was very crowded and I picked a crummy spot.

As you can see the professional show was a bit more organized than the anarchy at the square, but it was not nearly as exciting.

So there you have it a quick look at New Year's Eve in Prague's Old Town Square. Happy New Year.

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