Wasn’t it refreshing to see so many people in Fife take to the freezing waters of the Forth on New Year’s Day?
Not half as refreshing as it was for the partcipants, I’m sure.
But it was still great to see so many people brave the elements and take a dip to not only wash away any cobwebs from festivities the night before but also to raise thousands upon thousands of pounds for worthy causes.
It’s a tradition that’s gaining more and more popularity it seems every year, and I’ve already foolishly suggested I’ll be doing the 2021 one in Kirkcaldy before wolfing down the January 1 steak pie later that afternoon.
For me, Hogmanay in Fife hasn’t really been the same for years now and we’re really missing the big open air get-togethers that we used to get to see in the bells. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some great places to go and celebrate the New Year, but most folk I know tend to have house parties or are bedded by midnight these days as it can be all too pricey in pubs and clubs.
Once upon a time I was a staple of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, and loved it. The cosmopolitan crowds, the party atmosphere and the stunning fireworks made it memorable, and well worth putting up with how ridiculously busy it was and, on occasion, how bitterly cold it was as well.
However, while Fife’s Hogmanay has morphed into something different over the years, you only need to look at the stooshie on the other side of the Forth this year to realise that the grass isn’t always greener.
Underbelly, the events company that runs Edinburgh’s winter and Hogmanay festivals, came in for huge criticism over the rights of residents to access their own homes, with applications by residents for any more than six access passes being screened by the police.
Residential and shopping areas were cordoned off with steel barriers and security checks, and residents living inside the zone were effectively barred from viewing the fireworks at street level unless they bought festival tickets.
And then we found that revellers looking to take part in the annual Loony Dook in South Queensferry were being charged £12 a ticket to do so, despite hundreds of other people making the same type of splash further along the coastline for free.
There’s only so far people can be taken for a mug, and I fear the balance between helping people celebrate the New Year and profiteering from those same revellers reached a tipping point in 2020.
Perhaps now is the time then for Fife’s towns and villages to have another look at what they plan to do for Hogmanay 2020, and lay on family-friendly events that will capture the imagination, encourage people out and about here rather than over the Forth, and make the whole tradition of seeing in a New Year something special once again.