A few hundred frigid but festive revelers steam-whistled-in the New Year last night at Pratt Institute's annual blow out. The beloved neighborhood tradition is led by Chief Engineer Conrad Milster—and this year's celebration may be one of the last of its kind.
As usual, Milster and his crew set up two semi-separate stream whistle worlds for the celebration. The calliope area was up and running at about 10:30 p.m., and people took turns at the keyboard playing that one part of the one song they learned as a kid. The main attraction, however, was the murderers' row of ten of Milster's most massive whistles, all different sizes and pitches, which were blasted simultaneously at midnight.
The steam whistle tradition grew out of Milster's personal interest and is not officially affiliated with the school. Pratt says that the December 31, 2014 steam whistle party—if Milster decides to hold it—will be the last one, because the school and the facilities are usually closed during the holidays.
For about 45 minutes thereafter, anyone could pick up a rope, pull as hard as possible, and "play" the whistles themselves. Note: When these monsters are fully opened up, and you're right up close trying to shoot some video, it is literally the loudest noise you will ever hear in your life.
Temperatures in the mid-20s made the super-heated engine room an especially popular hang out this year, and the famous Pratt cats didn't seem to mind the commotion one bit.