Thousands Ring In New Year In Columbia's Downtown

5:23 AM, Jan 1, 2014   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The City of Columbia kicked off the New Year with its annual "Famously Hot New Year's Eve" event.

It's a celebration full of live music, food, and of course, the fireworks, but there are many reasons people were out at the event Tuesday night.

"We're all celebrating that it's the next year and it's so exciting," said Athena Kleckley, a 12 year-old who was out with her parents.

"Just to have fun," said Brandon Gantt. "Just have fun with family and friends."

Gantt said he drove from Orangeburg for the show.

For many, 2013 was a year with ups and downs, all of which were celebrated as thousands came to the event.

It is in its third year, and just about everyone showed up in their New Year's best to greet 2014.

Those who weren't dressed for the New Year brought their smiles.

"I got tired of sitting at home with my cat on one side and my dog on the other, and I just decided I needed to do something different this year," said Tina White, who was standing near the corner of Main and Gervais dancing and eating a pastry with her friend.

The start of the year carries hope for changes in next year, both for the oldest and the not so oldest among us.

"I feel like everyone is going to start off great and have a really, really good time during 2014," said Kleckley.

That is a good time at the New Year's Eve event that started two years ago for the Stamey family, allowing them to kick off a New Year and a 16th year of marriage on the same day.

"We've just usually celebrated at home or done other things, but we like the family atmosphere and the music and the fireworks all in one," said Tanya Stamey. 

Her husband Eric and son, James, 9, were also with her as they stood outside the Capital Center and watched the show on stage.

Tanya and Eric Stamey said their anniversary falls on Jan. 1.

I was actually out here last year," Gantt said. "I enjoyed myself out here last year, so I tried to come out here and do it again."

Organizers said they sold 800 tickets for food, dancing and drinks inside the VIP Lounge, which was held in the Capital Center lobby, recouping costs they said will allow them to do it all again next year as well.

A ticket into the lounge cost $125.

Jeremy Tyson, a fireworks technician who helped set up the explosives that went off immediately behind the State House and is familiar with the program said the show cost ranged from about $12,000 to $16,000.

It included about 1000 fireworks shells, Tyson said.

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