This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Josh Lowry might have needed hand-warmers for New Year's Eve, had he not been playing with fire.
Coatless in the 34-degree chill of Salt Lake City's Gallivan Center, Lowry entranced crowds with two flaming balls, attached to chains, which he swung vigorously around his body.
The cold didn't bother him, as it did his audience.
"It's nice and toasty," said Lowry, a fire dancer with the Incendiary Circus of Salt Lake City.
The firelight, growing brighter as the troupe ignited torches and batons, fueled the New Year's Eve fever Sunday as celebrators gathered downtown to welcome 2007.
The plaza rumbled with live rock 'n' roll bands. Artists spray-painted murals. Children fashioned noise-makers for the new year. All were part of First Night, an alcohol-free city celebration that would culminate in fireworks at midnight.
A Park City couple clasped hands, their glasses twinkling with red and blue lights, and said they were glad to escape the "mayhem" of their bustling hometown. Another woman, originally from New York City, said she had no regrets about trading away her Times Square.
Then there was Warren Kidman, a wide-eyed 8-year-old who marveled as flames twirled about the Incendiary Circus dancers. The performance was "cool" enough, but he doesn't plan to try it at home.
"You could burn your face off," the Salt Lake City youngster said.
Kidman would escape his bedtime Sunday to watch the New Year dawn. So would thousands of others who gathered at the Gallivan Center for a celebration that would attract an estimated 15,000 people.
Turnout might have been higher if it weren't a Sunday, said Robert Farrington Jr., executive director of the Downtown Alliance, which threw the 14th annual event. But instead of attracting 30,000-plus people downtown, he expected about half that.
But Farrington was far from disappointed. He predicted elbow-to-elbow crowds by the 10:30 p.m. performance of the Latin rock band deSol.
As downtown sizzled with entertainment, a more solemn celebration drew tens of thousands to the LDS conference center nearby.
There, Mormon youth filled the 21,000-seat auditorium to hear their prophet speak.
Among them was Rachel Peckham, a 16-year-old from Sandy, who said she wouldn't trade the "fireside" message for any of the downtown hype. Sure, she might enjoy some sparkling apple cider or board games to usher in the New Year, but this was the big event.
"This is much cooler," she said. "This is what we believe in. We believe in keeping the Sabbath day holy."
LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, reminiscing about banging pots and pans to celebrate the New Year as a boy, urged Mormon youth to be grateful, smart, clean and prayerful as they enter 2007.
"The future is before you," he said. "Don't spoil that future."
As midnight approached, so did celebrants who flowed into the Gallivan plaza. The air thumped with percussion. The aroma of hamburgers, coffee and funnel cakes spilled from nearby tents.
Shane Stevens, a Holladay celebrant, only had one complaint as the fire dancers performed.
"It could have been warmer," he said.