New Year's Eve: Maine-Style

On New Year's Eve, New York City drops a ball made of Waterford crystal while tens of thousands of people cram themselves into Times Square.

Yeah, that doesn't happen in Maine (although Bangor does drop a beach ball covered in tiny lights, pictured above). Things are a little more laid-back here, which is just the way we like it. No matter what your reveling style, there's surely something to do to celebrate. Here are our picks to see the decade out, Maine-style.

Big Fish
In Eastport, which shares a bay and a sense of community with its neighbors in New Brunswick, revelers drop two things — a giant maple leaf at the strike of midnight Atlantic time and a great sardine at the stroke of midnight eastern time. Live music, dining and lodging specials abound.

Small Ball
The whole thing began as, not exactly a gag, but let's just say that the family who started Bangor's tradition of tossing a lit beach ball off their roof on New Year's Eve had no way of knowing they were starting a phenomenon. Now in its fourth year, Downtown Countdown has grown into a citywide celebration with food, drink, live music, dancing, movies and games for all ages. The ball toss takes place in West Market Square, but everything else is indoors.

Icing on the Cake
If we had an extra $50 kicking around (and had plans to be in Portland), we'd go to Icing at Space Gallery. Where to begin with Icing? Live music by Spencer and the School Spirit Mafia, Bam Bam, Matt Rock & Kate Cox, Olas, and Frank Turek; photography by Jonathan Donnell; video by Dave Camlin and David Meiklejohn; an installation by Pinehaven Collective; and a screening of "Handmade Nation" by documentarian Faythe Levine.

An Old-Fashioned Good Time
Bar Harbor's First Night allows families to celebrate the new year early with a bonfire, hayride, cocoa and story time from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 31, at the town ballfield and YMCA.

It's Bean Real
We're really, really, ready to give 2009 the boot. And what better way than with a celebration at L.L. Bean? The family-friendly festivities go on all day, and feature performances by popular children's musicians The Flannery Brothers and Rick Charette. Oh, and there will be fireworks, too.

Revelry by the Bay
Belfast really knows how to throw a party, and this lovely city has had plenty of practice. Now in its 13th year, the chem-free New Year's by the Bay has become a destination for locals and visitors alike. Expect plenty of excellent food, great music, tango (yes, tango), curling, poetry, a bonfire and more.

Last Hurrah
Last Night! in Blue Hill features music, dancing, puppet shows, juggling, magic and more by 30 artists — the opener is Noel Paul Stookey — in 10 venues throughout town. Everything is free.


Falbert said...

Presque Isle  -  As the famous Times Square ball drops again in New York City on New Year’s Eve, so will The Star City’s star rise to usher in 2010 in northern Maine.  In an expanded version of Presque Isle’s first-ever star raising held last December 31st to jump start the community’s 150th anniversary, community organizers are moving the event to the heart of the downtown and adding festivities to a full evening of celebration that will culminate with the rising of an illuminated six foot tall metal star, built by Northern Maine Community College students, beside the city’s tallest building in the moments leading up to midnight.

The second annual Star City First Night celebration is hosted by the Presque Isle Downtown Revitalization Committee and sponsored in part by Key Bank.  It will feature activities for the entire family, including storytelling, games, movie showings, musical entertainment, and dance performances beginning at 8:00 p.m. and running through the star rising event at venues in the downtown corridor that includes the immediate area encompassing State and Main Streets.  Festivities will conclude after the midnight star rising on the State Street side of the four-story Key Bank building with a New Year toast that will serve as a sneak peek at the new Wintergreen Arts Center on State Street.

The Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library will be the host site of many of the evening’s family centered activities.  Storytelling and a special visit by Curious George himself will kick off at the library at 8:00 p.m. with activities such as Wii game playing and children’s movie showings continuing through the night.

Hors d’oeuvres and non-alcoholic beverages will be served throughout the evening with a special toast planned at 9:30 p.m. and hosted by the Presque Isle Downtown Revitalization Committee to thank the organization’s many partners and volunteers during the year 2009.  Local acoustical musicians will perform at the library before and after the toast and leading into the “star” event.

Special performances by the Moon Dance Studio dance troupe will get underway at 8:00 p.m. at the Northeastland Hotel in the Ball Room.  The dancers will be followed by live music performed by the Aroostook River Band at 9:00 p.m.  Moon Dance will return for a second performance at 10:00 p.m. and the band will resume playing at 10:30 p.m. until it is time for the star rising.  Refreshments will be served at the Hotel.

Traffic on State Street in Presque Isle between the intersections with Second Street and Main Street will be blocked off by the Presque Isle Police Department and the city’s Fire Department at approximately 11:00 p.m. to prepare for spectators to gather on the street beginning around 11:30 p.m. to watch the star make its rise behind the Key Bank Building (east side facing the Maine Public Service building).

The Star City First Night celebration will not end with the star rising event.  Just after midnight, the festivities will move down the street from the area surrounding the Key Bank building to 149 State Street, home of the new Wintergreen Arts Center.  The first hour of the new year will serve as a sneak peek for the new facility, which will officially open later in the week in the old Wight Furniture building.  A sparkling cider toast and entertainment by the Presque Isle High School Jazz Combo will be part of the festivities at Wintergreen.

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