Winnipeggers happy to say goodbye to 2020, yearning for hope in 2021

Winnipeggers are more than happy to end the year 2020 with a bang, and welcome 2021 with hope.

Among the many significant events in 2020, Manitobans mourned for lives lost in Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 that was shot down in Tehran, Iran, protested for Indigenous land rights and police reform, and continue to endure the COVID-19 pandemic.

To celebrate the end of what seemed like a tumultuous year, Winnipegger Dave Parsons will lit up an igloo he built in his Island Lakes backyard over the last month and put off fireworks.

“It’s just more of a fun way to celebrate the coming of 2021 and kicking 2020 out,” Parsons said, adding that this is the first igloo he has constructed. He joked that he will be going into retirement from igloo building after Thursday night.

The typical New Year’s Eve gatherings can’t happen in Manitoba this year due to the current public health orders, which prohibit public gatherings larger than five people and private gatherings with people outside the household. Though, people who live alone can be in a bubble with one other home.

“It’s been a tough year on a lot of people. Just being outside and doing something healthy, and sharing a little bit of light, is kind of what [this project] means to me,” said Parsons, adding that the igloo took about 70 hours total to complete.

The past 365 days have added perspective on simple things like being allowed to hug loved ones, he said. Parsons hopes 2021 eventually brings a semblance of that back to everyday life.

Parsons says the igloo took about 70 hours total to finish. (CBC/Justin Fraser)

Meanwhile, other people spent part of New Year’s Eve skating around the recently opened skating path and rinks at The Forks and the river trail. The Centennial River Trail, named in honour of the Winnipeg Foundations 100th anniversary in 2021, opened Thursday night.

Among the crowd were Janet Wiherowsky, who was dressed like Santa Claus and carried a ring of jingle bells, and her elf Lisa Kopochinski, who donned a festive Christmas sweater over her parka.

“We are bringing hope and sanity, and hopefully good feelings for 2021,” said Wiherowsky. “Good feelings for the world, Winnipeg, each other.”

Kopochinski is hoping 2021 is a better year than 2020 was. “It couldn’t get much worse,” she said.

Both Wiherowsky and Kopochinski said they’re hoping the COVID-19 vaccine becomes widespread sooner rather than later, and for kindness.