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31 December, 2000

New Yearıs Eve

All across the world, people are celebrating the new year, and the South Pole is no exception. Today, New Yearıs Eve, the garage was transformed into the scene for tonights party. By early evening, a stage was set up for a band, lights strung across the room, tables, chairs and couches were brought in from around the station.

Women are a growing minority at the South Pole, representing about 25% of the population this year. For the last few years, all of the women have gathered for a New Years picture at the pole. This year, we gathered at 9PM, a little while before the party in the garage got started.

Just before midnight, a handfull of people went up to the pole, where about a week ago the location of the new geographical south pole was determined. The South Pole is on top of an ice sheet that is moving a few meters each year, so the pole marker is moved on New Years to remain at 90 degrees South. At midnight, the new marker was put into the ice. Many people remained at the pole for a while, talking about the significance of the South Pole, some people taking out Global Positioning Systems to see that it really was at 90 degrees south, and a few people took this opportunity to walk around the world, or hop between time zones. We observe GMT +13 at the South Pole, the same time zone as New Zealand, and the first to hit the new year. For the next day, on each hour, there will probably be someone at the South Pole marker ringing in the new year in a different time zone.

For the next few hours, most of the station was in the garage, grooving to the band and having a good time. Since the doors were closed and the lights strung across the room was the only illumination, it was fairly dim. It was easy to forget that we are at a place where the sun never sets, until someone opens the door and bright light comes streaming into the room.

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