A little history, a little humor
On December 31st 1999, a Grand Bal was organised on place Jacques-Cartier to celebrate the new millenary. Inspired by traditional neighborhood festivities, Montrealers celebrated the New Year with quebec folkloric music. The instant triumph, scored by the presence of more than 25 000 people, inspired us to repeat the experience. Today, we organize the 11th edition of the New Year’s Grand Bal.
In 2004, with a desire to elongate the pleasure, we developped « The Old Montreal’s Extravaganza Festival ». The festival offers multiple activities and events within which the Old Montreal’s museums, patrimonial heritage and institutions collaborate and expose the holiday frenzy. This amalgam bestows to the Old Montreal the perfect location for the holiday celebration.
Funny facts and peculiar anecdotes!
Having many events on a regular basis within the Old Montreal’s Extravaganza Festival isn’t without surprise. For your pleasure, we decided to share several anecdotes and comic facts which occured over the past years.
In 2004, during the Grand Bal, a snowstorm accompanied by powerful gusts of wind transformed the singer into a snowman and blew up the guitarist’s amplifier.
Yet another year more than 50 centimeters of snow fell during one night, covering the entire scene on which the band should have played.
In 2008, for the first outdoor screening, the organizing committee had chosen a magnificent lieu by the St Laurence River. Whilst awaiting the sunset to start the movie, the legendary breeze of the river cooled down, transforming the spectators in ice cubes.
The same year, even though the process had followed the rules and delays, the Neapolitan Nativity scene, arriving directly from Italy, came in 10 days later. The customs had held baby Jesus captive for an unexpected time.
In 2009, in collaboration with the Russian Centre for the Children Mechta, the event A Russian Christmas was presented at the Bonsecours Market.
However, the event had been so successful the security refused access to any more participants 30 minutes before the beginning.
One of the most spectacular surprises of the Extravaganza happened within the Star Christmas Tree event. The tree designed by producer Denise Robert was auctioned for 35 000 $ which was then offered to the Dr Julien Foundation, a pediatric institution aiming to develop and help children in need as much as possible.
Over the past years, more than 100 000$ per year were given to charities by auctioning Mrs Robert’s Christmas tree ornamentations. Thank you and congratulations Mrs Robert.
Still within the Star Christmas Tree, only one red Christmas ball was found in the historian Marcel Tessier’s tree. Surprisingly, all the other were blue.
Crime on Place Jacques-Cartier !
The news went around the world. In fact, the baby Jesus from the human-sized Nativity Scene situated on the place Jacques-Cartier had been stolen. The organizing committee received a call the next day saying this event had done the front page of a daily newspaper in Vancouver.
For the first edition of the New Year’s Grand Bal, in 1999, the organizing committee had planned a massive balloon take-off for the countdown. When the time had come, all the balloons were taken outside by the stage. The radical temperature change considerably affected their size. We feared they’d never fly away but happily, hundreds and hundreds of ballons were released on the New Year’s Eve of the New Millenary !