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New Year's Eve protesters gather at Vancouver Art Gallery

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A year like no other, ended like no other. The streets of downtown Vancouver on New Year’s Eve were relatively quiet.

COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have altered nearly everything conventional this year, and ringing in the New Year was no exception.

Although, there weren’t the parties and gatherings of years past, a hybrid celebration/protest took place at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Another so-called “Freedom Rally” took place Thursday night with dozens at the plaza mask-less, dancing but also holding their signs against provincial health orders.

David Zura with City News was down at the rally.

“There were people with top hats, wearing Christmas lights, none of them with masks. Signs that said, ‘Hugs not Masks,’ that sort of thing.”

Also, a prominent figure showed up for an encore performance of sorts.

The now former Vancouver Canucks anthem singer Mark Donnelly belted out a few songs for the crowd as Vancouver Police stood guard.

While the crowd was modest compared to similar rallies in 2020 at the Art Gallery, around 150 people attended. The protesters had canopy tents to try and stay dry during the rainy night.

No word yet on whether police issued fines for those defying health orders.

Constable Tania Visintin with the VPD said there will be an update coming later Friday if anything major happens.

David Zura also said a few people made an attempt to gather on the Granville strip after the liquor sales stopped at 8 p.m.

“We were unsure what to expect after Halloween. For the most part it was pretty quiet. You could see what looked like a couple attempts to celebrate. Some people playing music and some people gathering, no one breaking ten like we saw on Halloween.”

-With files from David Zura