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New Year's Eve celebration changes

9:18 AM, Dec 31, 2012   |    comments
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If you don't have New Year's Eve plans in Knoxville just yet, there are plenty of activities downtown.

The Market Square celebration is scaled back this year, with the absence of First Night, but the city has taken over to bring us the holiday staples.

"We are very excited about hosting this event this year," said Judith Foltz, the City of Knoxville's Special Events Director. "The city felt very strongly that we need to celebrate the new year so we took it on to do the ball drop and the fire works."

For the past five years, the non profit City Center Events, organized the festivities. The event included music and dancing at a dozen downtown venues with a purchased button and family friendly activities in the square.

City Center decided to take this year off to evaluate the need.

"There are so many more restaurants and shops than there was a few years ago when First Night first started to pull people down here," said Foltz.

The city, who has always been apart of the event, says as First Night grew other venues started their own celebrations. Now, they say an event isn't needed to draw people to downtown.

"Downtown has just been thriving. There is so much activity down here," Foltz said.

Cafe 4 said they don't believe the loss of First Night will hurt their business.

"I'm anticipating us being busy no matter what. Just because it's New Year's Eve and everybody's out," said Brandon Chancey, Cafe 4 manager.

But Chancey says he hopes the event returns next year.

"I am disappointed that there's no bands and I think everybody enjoyed First Night because you paid and got the pin and it allowed you into so many venues," he said.

The ice skating rink will be open until midnight. There will also be face painting and a bungee jump for kids.

The grand finale will feature fireworks and a ball drop as we ring in the new year. WBIR's Erin Donovan will emcee the ceremony starting at 11:30.

Carleo's Entertainment, owner of several Old City restaurants and nightclubs, is offering a package deal with hotel, tickets, and transportation starting at $121.

The Crowne Plaza Hotel is celebrating with dinner and dancing starting at $200 per couple. Reservations are required.

The Knoxville Musuem of Art is hosting the "Alive after Five" event featuring live music starting at $30.

If you're celebrating the new year in the Smokies, you'll find a big show in Gatlinburg.

For 27 years, the city has put on a ball drop and fireworks show.

Pyro-shows out of Lafollette shoots fireworks sideways out of the Spaceneedle from 300 feet in the air, followed by a ball drop at midnight.

More than 60-thousand people watch the display each year, and the best view is at the base of the Spaceneedle.

Music and entertainment are featured before the main event.

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