I rang in the new year with what I've been told is a distinctly Victoria tradition: the levee at City Hall.. It was one of at least seven going on New Year's Day, all of which were published in the paper several days ahead of time, some of which, like the one at Government House, are legendary. We got up what felt like ridiculously early after a night out before and wandered the two short blocks down to City Hall. Up the stairs in the Council Chambers, the city council was lined up in a reception line to shake everyone's hand. As the hour wore on, it started looking more like they were awaiting firing squad than new arrivals, but none of them deserted their posts.
Upon arrival, there was a very proper, and long, queue for coffee looping around the majority of the room. As I was there for the food and didn't want anything that would keep me awake once I got home and could nap, I got to sit and watch everyone else come in; the levee bus tour of city homeless that takes them around to each stop so they can stuff themselves (we were the first stop, which meant the arrival of food in addition to coffee lead to the immediate dissolution of any proper queue), the woman who lost the most recent City Council election, the Raging Grannies, each in their own eye-catching outfit (I spotted leather pants on one), but with the common thread of purple hats and signs pinned to their shirts demanding that the minimum wage be raised. One gentleman I think was unassociated with them came in and recruited them to sing a rousing rendition of "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum." Also among the attendees were Victoria's Poet Laureate, Linda Rogers, and her theremin-playing husband, and a young man in a leather jacket who sat in the middle of the floor and booted up his netbook to take advantage of City Hall's free public wifi until the photographer for the paper apparently made him uncomfortable with dozens of shots.
A short hour and a shrimp-and-lettuce wrap later, and the first levee of the year was over.