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Fireworks mark the coming of the New Year during Niagara’s New Year’s Eve bash. (Photo Courtesy of Winter Festival of Lights)

Story by Andrea Gross I’m half-submerged in a luxurious whirlpool tub, sipping from a glass of sweet ice wine and looking out the window at the cascading waters of Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the three falls that make up Niagara Falls. Over there, in the distance, is the United States. Here, at the Radisson Hotel, is Canada. Divided in part by the Niagara River, the two countries share the Falls, with Horseshoe on the Canadian side, American and Bridal Veil Falls technically in the United States although better viewed from Canada. They’re not the tallest falls in the world, but they’re among the most powerful, and tonight, illuminated in festive colors, they’re surely the most beautiful. Waterfalls, wine and a whirlpool tub — could there be a more glorious way to spend New Year’s Eve? I think not, but a party is waiting outside — not just any party, but one of the grandest in Canada and the only one that’s televised from coast-to-coast. In short, “It’s Canada’s answer to Times Square,” says Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati.

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December 2014

My husband and I don our parkas — December weather in Niagara typically ranges from the low 20s to the mid 30s — and set out for Queen Victoria Park. It’s not far from the hotel, and as we walk along the path bordering the Falls, we’re surrounded by trees sparkling with more than a million lights and over 100 illuminated displays representing everything from Noah’s ark and an Inuit kayak to humungous Canadian and United States flags. By the time we arrive at the park, music is blaring from the stage and the place is packed with revelers. Off to the side the Skylon Tower rises 775 feet above the Falls. The circular top, which resembles a space station, is aglow with lights, and the exterior glass-enclosed elevator, called the “Yellow Bug,” streaks up and down, ferrying visitors to and from the revolving dining room and observation deck at the top. The countdown begins shortly before midnight. Eight, seven, six….. One! The Yellow Bug zooms to the top, fireworks explode from the tower, and the crowd

A three-story tall illuminated flag of Canada welcomes folks from the United States, who make up half of the 11 million travelers that visit Niagara each year. (Photo Courtesy of Winter Festival of Lights) roars. Then, led by the performers on stage, everyone begins singing Auld Lang Syne. It’s almost 1 a.m. when we head back to the Radisson, and we have to run to catch the Falls Incline Railway before it closes. This saves us the uphill hike from the street level park to the Fallsview Tourist Area, where the hotels, casino, eateries and shops are located. We arrive in our room chilled but thrilled, ready to start the new year. The next day we explore more of Niagara’s winter offerings. After walking further along the three-mile illumination route, we warm up amongst the poinsettias and Christmas cactus at the Floral Showhouse and then make our way to Journey Behind the Falls, an attraction that helps us truly appreciate the size and splendor of Niagara. Dressed in waterproof ponchos (distributed free at the entrance), we slosh through tunnels to emerge 13 stories www.TheBestOfTimesNews.com

Profile for Gary Calligas

Thebestoftimesdec2014  

The December 2014 issue of The Best of Times features the wonderful world of model trains. It also includes columns on finance, senior legal...

Thebestoftimesdec2014  

The December 2014 issue of The Best of Times features the wonderful world of model trains. It also includes columns on finance, senior legal...

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