Sunday is New Year’s Eve. Many decades ago there was a group of lively somewhat young year-round adults on Chappy who seemed to have unlimited energy for staying up late. They routinely stayed at New Year’s Eve parties in town to welcome in the new year. The ferry driver would come back down to the ferry at 1 a.m. to bring them home to Chappy. Someone in the group would take it upon themselves to gather up a generous tip to show the ferry captain their appreciation. It was usually a single trip with three car loads of partiers. You could count on it year after year.

Then little by little they started having families. Baby sitters were pretty scare back then so occasionally some couples skipped a year or two. Eventually, we were down to one car load and a couple of foot passengers. Then about two decades ago the ringleader made arrangements with the ferry captain for the late trip and showed up at 11 p.m. saying he was just too tired to stay out for another two hours but that some of the others wanted to stay at the party. Rather than go home just to turn around an hour later to return, the ferry driver waited in the ferry house watching the ball drop in Times Square on television. The car load of partiers showed up in the waiting line at five minutes past midnight. They must have been putting on their coats during the singing of Auld Lang Syne. We had at least one year when no one at all asked for the late trip.

Folks have gotten back into the holiday spirt and that late trip has been run every year now since I took over operation of the ferry service a decade ago. The biggest adjustment is that the late trip is made at 12:30 a.m. now. This year captain Brad Fligor will be on duty. In addition to the regular fares, there will be an extra fee of $10 per person. Thanks to the Harbor View Hotel, Brad will have a fireworks show for entertainment while waiting for the partiers to return. The fireworks are launched from a barge anchored in the harbor just south of the lighthouse. Chappaquiddickers can get a great view of the show anywhere from the ferry point to the Caleb’s Pond overlook. On New Year’s Day, the ferry will operate on the normal winter schedule.

A month ago I made plans to spend the New Year’s weekend in Boston. I especially enjoy the ice sculptures. When the first long range forecasts for that weekend came out the temperatures were predicted to be just above the freezing point. Bad news for frozen water. Good news for strolling around the city. But as the weather pattern has emerged, the temperatures are now going to be in the teens and single digits. Great news for the folks who put so much effort into such perishable works of art. Pretty good news for ice skating in the Common. Not such good news for walking.

Included in that wonderful new forecast is half a foot of snow, both on the Vineyard and in Boston. It should be light and fluffy since the ground will have had four days to freeze and the air will be below freezing as well. I’m aware that some folks aren’t thrilled by the thought of snow and the extra effort required to deal with it, but for me it’s a huge treat. As a school kid, the short-term euphoria of waking up to the news that schools will be closed for the day was well worth the disappointment of the make-up day of classes in the spring. Even now I have an appreciation for those tiny little water crystals giving us a break from our usual routines. I must have shoveled tons of snow when I was a teenager. I realize that I am fortunate in that my job now entails very little lifting of snow. Most of my current snow removal activities involves just pushing snow off of the decks of the ferries. It’s very satisfying work and helps me to recall simpler times in my life when my only worry was figuring out the right amount to ask for clearing the neighbor lady’s sidewalk.

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