Frigid temperatures could result in smaller crowds in downtown Baltimore on New Year’s Eve, which would be bad news for bars and restaurants looking for revelers to boost business.
“I think for us, we know weather’s a factor, and New Year’s Eve can be weather dependent. So with the lower temperatures, we don’t want to guess, but I’m sure weather will be a factor,” said Tracy Baskerville, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Office of the Promotion of the Arts.
Baskerville, Mayor Catherine Pugh, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Chief Melissa Hyatt of the Baltimore Police Department’s special operations and development division addressed the city’s plans for New Year’s Eve during a news conference at City Hall on Thursday.
Festivities downtown include a performance by R&B/soul singer Alexis Joyce at 9 p.m. at the Inner Harbor. At midnight a 15-minute fireworks display will be launched from a pair of barges anchored at the Inner Harbor.
New Year’s Eve crowds could also be diminished if visitors choose to stay away because of a surge in violent crime resulting in 343 murders so far this year. By comparison, New York City, which has a population of 8.5 million residents, is expected to have less than 300 murders this year. Baltimore has about 620,000 residents.
The Baltimore Police Department is taking extra precautions, such as banning vehicle traffic from areas where large groups of people are expected to gather, to ensure safety downtown.
“Safety is paramount. We will have multi-tiered safety (and) security measures that will be in place, and we intend on making this a safe and successful event for Baltimore City,” Hyatt said.
Another complicating factor downtown is the Baltimore Ravens tilt against the Cincinnati Bengals here on Sunday. Because of the game’s potential impact on the NFL’s playoff race the game was bumped back from 1 p.m. to 4:25 p.m.
The outcome of the game and when it finishes could influence how many people plan to stick around downtown after the game.
Meanwhile, bars and restaurants are busy preparing for what is generally one of the busiest nights of the year.
At least one business, Fells Point landmark Bertha’s Mussels, is expecting business to be the same as it usually is on New Year’s Eve despite the weather, crime and football conflicts.
“We always have a really great New Year’s Eve. I don’t see it being any different. It should be a good one,” Bernard Lyons, Bertha’s bar manager, said.