By DOTTY NIST
For those who like to celebrate New Year’s Eve out and about, there is a multitude of options close by, including family-oriented outdoor celebrations open to the public.
Seaside is offering Countdown Seaside, with live music kicking off in the amphitheatre at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31 with Americana/soul band Dawes. Rock and roll band Truth & Salvage Co. follows at 9:30 p.m. Included with the event will be children’s activities led by the art education organization Abrakadoodle. At midnight, a fireworks display over the gulf will cap off the celebration.
At the Village of Baytowne Wharf, the Baytowne Countdown for New Year’s Eve will feature tribute bands for some of the nation’s favorite performers, along with a fireworks show over the lagoon. The celebration starts at 6:30 p.m. in the events plaza with an Elton John/Billy Joel tribute, followed at 8:30 p.m.by the Emerald Coast Blues Brothers and at 10:30 p.m. by The BonJourneys, a Bon Jovi and Journey tribute band.
New Year’s Eve “ball drop” festivities are also options without the need to travel to New York City or Atlanta. The Pier Park outdoor shopping mall in nearby Panama City Beach will host its third annual Beach Ball Drop, featuring an 800-pound glowing beach ball which will descend from a height of more than 100 feet just before midnight on Dec. 31. Festivities at Pier Park begin at 6:30 p.m. and include street performers, bounce houses, party favors, stilt walkers and face painters. There will even be a kids’ beach ball drop at 8 p.m. At 9 p.m., Pier Park’s streets will be closed off to traffic for the official New Year’s Eve countdown. Gloriana and Steve Youngblood will headline the music offerings, and there will also be a fireworks display over the gulf.
The Uptown Station shopping center in Fort Walton Beach will also host a New Year’s Eve ball drop as part of its “It’s Midnight Somewhere” celebration, which focuses on children. Food and drink will be available, along with live music by the Classic Brass. There will be an appearance by Sponge Bob Square Pants, courtesy of Cox Media. In order to include the kids and not infere with their bedtime, the descent of the giant illuminated ball from the state’s largest flagpole will take place at 6 p.m.
Many local restaurants, resorts, hotels and bars are also planning New Year’s Eve celebrations featuring live music, special menus, and more. The Beaches of South Walton Web site, www.beachesofsouthwalton.com, is one of the best sources of information for details on these celebrations. Once on the site, click on “What’s going on?” on the right side of the screen.
Happy New Year!