NYE party at Autogrill prank lures thousands

It was meant to be a “sort of” joke by four friends, but an invitation to spend New Year’s Eve at the motorway diner, Autogrill, attracted almost 13,000 revellers, forcing the restaurant to disconnect its phone line after a surge in calls from people eager to get on the party list.

NYE party at Autogrill prank lures thousands
The NYE party at Autogrill will not be going ahead. Photo: Kathie Sierra

Police were forced to intervene after things got out of hand, with party-goers up and down the country calling the restaurant, located on the A13 between Bologna and Padua, to reserve their place, Il Resto del Carlino reported.

But what did the message say that piqued their interest?

“Tired of the same old New Year’s Eve?” the organizers wrote in their invitation.

“Want to spend December 31st in an original way? Then join us at Autogrill. Fantastic motorway food. We can ‘do the conga’ together with loud music in the forecourt. The only cost is the motorway toll.”

The message quickly went viral, attracting 35,000 ‘likes’ and almost 13,000 people confirming their attendance.

But it also whipped staff at Autogrill Adige Est into a frenzy after thousands called the restaurant to reserve their place.

Police in Bologna were notified and amid concern that the influx of revellers would clog traffic on the motorway they immediately issued a statement, putting paid to the party plans.

“There will be no motorway party,” they said.

“The carpark at Autogrill Agide Est has a capacity for just 100 cars. The situation has got out of hand. The danger is it could block the entrance to the service station, with serious consequences for the entire circulation of traffic on the motorway.”

But according to the organizers, the invitation was less a joke and more a revolt against costly big New Year’s Eve events. They just didn’t expect it to be so appealing, let alone attract police intervention.

“The idea was thought up in a bar among a group of friends,” Giorgia Furlanetto, a trainee lawyer, told police.

“We were just looking for a cheaper way to spend New Year’s Eve.” 

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Firework kills 13-year-old boy in Italy on New Year’s Eve

A 13-year-old boy was killed, 79 people injured, and huge numbers of birds left dead by New Year’s Eve fireworks in Italy, despite local bans on personal firework displays.

Firework kills 13-year-old boy in Italy on New Year's Eve
Fireworks above St Peter's Basilica in Rome on New Year's Eve. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
The boy, from a Roma camp outside the northern Italian city of Asti, died in hospital in the early hours of New Year's Day after a firecracker severely injured his abdomen. 
At the same time, the International Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) called for a ban on fireworks in a post showing starling carcasses littering a street in Rome. 
“It can be that they died from fear. They can fly up together and knock against each other, or hit windows or electric power lines. Let’s not forget they can also die of heart attacks,” said Loredana Diglio, a spokeswoman for the organisation.

Despite the boy's tragic death, a local ban on personal fireworks displays in Rome, and nationwide lockdown over New Year's Eve meant for an unusually subdued celebrations, with the number of accidents requiring firefighters to be called out was down by two thirds. 
Firefighters carried out 229 interventions across Italy over New Year’s Eve, compared with 686 last year, the the department of public security said in over Twitter. 
Of the 79 people injured, 23 were hospitalised,
Most of of the call-outs were in Lazio, the region surrounding Rome.
A woman was taken to hospital in Naples after she was hit on the head by a firecracker splinter while taking the rubbish out. 
A man in Milan lost two of his fingers in the most serious incident there, while others across Italy reported injuries to their hands and close to their eyes. 
Eight of the total injured were children.
OIPA said that the birds dead in the picture appeared to have been killed by a particularly loud display of firecrackers and fireworks in the leafy neighborhood where many of the birds have their nests.