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Other Places to Be on New Year’s Eve

By Suzanne McMinn

If Times Square isn’t your style—in person or via TV—turn the page to the start of the next calendar at one of these events across the country. From festivals in Western mountains to celebrations at sunny seasides, there’s more to New Year’s than the countdown to a dropping ball.

Ring in the New Year at a free outdoor festival at City Market in sun-splashed Savannah, Georgia. The commercial and social center of historic Savannah, this open-air marketplace comes alive with music to rock the cobblestone streets and fireworks to light the sky. Shopping, dining and special themed children’s activities are on offer, and for the courageous there’s the annual Polar Bear Plunge into the Atlantic on New Year’s Day.

The annual Rockin’ at the Dock event at Cocoa Beach Pier in Cocoa Beach, Florida welcomes the New Year with balloon drops, confetti cannons, fresh seafood and musical entertainment, all along the length of the historic landmark. Stretching 800 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, the pier is decked out with restaurants, shops and live screens that let you keep tabs on New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world. Pier fishing is also an option if you want to include a catch in your celebration.

Midnight is only the beginning of the celebration at New Year’s in New Orleans in the Jackson Square section of the famed French Quarter. Watch Baby New Year drop from atop a brewery building followed by fireworks launched from twin barges that are anchored mid-river. Live music, fine dining and (during the day on the 31st) a “Countdown to Noon” for children at the Louisiana Children’s Museum round out the festivities.

For a complete change of pace, start the new year Western-style on a dude ranch. The 8,500-acre C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, Colorado offers a midnight countdown with a live band, but that’s not all. Join in the Western swing dancing (lessons are available), ice skate by torchlight or take a cross-country ski tour. Ride the luge down the tracks or play hockey on a frozen pond. Horseback riding is available on the beautiful mountain trails as well as in a heated indoor arena. Or if all you want to do is relax at the lodge, you can sign up for a massage and take a dip in a hot tub.

Back on the East Coast, First Night is Boston Harbor’s innovative alcohol-free celebration of the New Year. The event includes musical entertainment, ice sculptures and a “Grand Procession,” followed by midnight fireworks. Crews of some of the ships, including Coast Guard vessels, greet visitors at the Moakley Courthouse, while puppet shows and other children’s activities abound at the Hynes Convention Center. It’s a full, family-style day at one of the nation’s most historic spots.

Marking the end of one year and the beginning of the next is a tradition worth celebrating. It’s a time to reflect on the past and imagine new possibilities for the future. No matter where you are, that’s something to toast.

The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.

Suzanne McMinn lives with her three children on a farm in West Virginia, where she writes the blog Chickens in the Road, about finding “the true meaning of home—and life—beyond the noise of suburban sprawl and suburban convenience.”


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