SALT LAKE CITY — As revelers of all ages roamed downtown Salt Lake City Monday night taking in sights, shows and fireworks they expressed New Year's wishes for meaningful relationships in 2013.
Bundled against the bitter cold and decked in festive hats and light-up glasses, visitors at the Downtown Alliance's EVE Salt Lake City party had a chance to take in 10 venues for activities and entertainment, culminating in a concert and fireworks at Gallivan Plaza.
Families with young children could begin the evening at The Gateway's Family Festival, where Radio Disney hosted a party complete with music, dancing, prize drawings, face painting and a fish pond. Children submitted their 2013 wishes to be read over a loudspeaker, including hopes to "grow taller" and for "the Raiders to win the Super Bowl."
The party included a kid-friendly countdown to the New Year at 7 p.m., complete with happy cheering, streamers and a mini fireworks display on 100 South in The Gateway.
The Langton family from Layton spent some time at the kid festival before heading to Gallivan Plaza, making the most of their first time at an EVE event. They weren't sure what they'd find, but were pleased to find the night was "family friendly" and full of things to do.
Sporting a puffy black wig and goofy glasses, Ryan Langton was eager to play with his five young children. His hope for his family in the New Year is to spend time growing and improving together.
"It's just to try to stick together and be better all around," he said, later adding they're trying not to worry too much about the nation's "fiscal cliff."
His wife, Sarah Langton, said she hopes the nation can enjoy life as it is and adjust expectations, setting reasonable goals.
"There's too much on Pintrest and too much trying to keep up with the Jones,'" she said. "I think we need less of that."
Clinton and Angela Christensen took their two sons, 8-year-old Jordan and 4-year-old Josh, to visit the Clark Planetarium and The Gateway. The Christensen's two boys are adopted, and the family hopes to open their home to another child in the coming year.
"It blesses our family, and it also provides a home for a child that would have a very different kind of life otherwise," Clinton said.
In contrast to the revelry taking place elsewhere in the city, about 60 faithful gathered at the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple to literally ring out the past year during a traditional Joya-E service, which means last night gathering in Japanese.
Following the brief sermon by Rev. Jerry Hirano, who encouraged those gathered to reflect on their good intentions from the past year and to live one’s life to benefit others, the congregation lined up to ring the temple’s Kansho bell that hangs outside the temple. Each person took a turn striking the large copper bell with a wooden mallet three times, symbolically ringing the bell 108 times, representing the number of passions that make us human and that we strive to overcome.
“I’m tired of doing meaningless stuff on New Year’s Eve, so I wanted to do something meaningful and set the tone for the new year,” said Rebecca Jackson, 23, of Orem, who gathered in the temple’s gym to eat a bowl of noodles, topped with a hardboiled egg, pork and fish cake.
The Joya-E service is observed by Japanese Buddhists around the world. On New Year’s Day a separate service is held called Shusho-E, which means gathering to recover the correct path.
David and DeAnn Wall are in the process of moving back to Utah to be close to their children in 2013. They spent New Year's Eve at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building with their daughter Hailey, alternating between taking in the musical performances in the lobby and indexing genealogical records in the FamilySearch Center.
The Walls indexed approximately 13,000 names for genealogical work by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the past year. They hope to complete 15,000 more in 2013.
"It's just a way to serve, and it's always fun when you know you're doing something good," DeAnn Wall said. "It's just a way to feel good, and have a great time at Temple Square."
David Wall marveled at how much faster and simpler the process has become, leading him to dedicate more time to the project.
"We're indexing for basically anybody, but somebody else is doing the same thing and happens to be stumbling upon our family, making it easier for us to go and find things," he said. "It's amazing."
Hailey Wall, a student at Utah State University, said her resolution for the next semester and the rest of the year is to continue her studies in landscape design.
At Gallivan Plaza, live bands played for a chilly group, many keeping warm around roaring flames, while fire dancers entertained a cheering crowd. There were free EVE-themed photo booths available, along with vendors peddling light-up toys and warm mittens.
Jennifer Nichols, a freshman at the University of Utah, joined some friends visiting the Leonardo and taking in some of the music at Gallivan Plaza before heading off to another party.
Nichols said her goal in 2013 is to maintain what her grandmother calls "peripheral vision," rather than living with societal blinders.
"It's kind of seeing everyone, and everyone's situations," she said.
Contributing: Matt Brown