A new year signals letting go of the old and welcoming the new. But, when the last day of the year comes into view, everyone just wants to have a good time. Whether the celebration is a delicious dinner with drinks at a local restaurant or an auditory feast while enjoying the Symphony Orchestra’s year-end performance, Pensacola offers everything a new year celebration could require. Regardless of how you celebrate through the night, all Pensacolians welcome the new year the same way: watching a glittering pelican light up the night.
The Pelican Drop became an instant classic for Pensacola in 2008 and draws upward of 50,000 people in attendance annually. With the streets of Palafox and Government closed to traffic, the Pelican Drop is a self-contained celebration, perfect for those who want to celebrate out on the town with the whole family.
Street closures will begin the morning of Dec. 31 and continue through 1 am New Year morning. For those who wish to secure good parking spots but not be left waiting for hours for the main party to start, there will be early family-friendly entertainment beginning at 3 pm at the Center Stage on Palafox and Garden Streets. An attraction new to this year’s event is a full-size Ferris wheel. Carnival games also will line the streets, and at 5:30 pm, the popular “Characters On The Go” interactive show will return to the Center Stage this year where children and their parents will be able to take photos with the characters. For those who do not want to stay out until midnight, the children’s area will host a special kids’ countdown at 8 pm complete with confetti and a fun bubble stomp.
The celebration continues as night falls on the Main Stage. Musical entertainment will begin at 5:30 pm with the Beatles tribute band Not Quite Fab. The ceremonial blessing of Pensacola, honoring the city and giving it fortune in the upcoming year, will commence at 6:45 pm. The bird of the night—the glittering 14foot-tall pelican—will be hoisted 100 feet above the intersection of Palafox and Government Streets an hour later. The party will be in full swing with musical guests ranging from Vince Vance and the Valiants, who are celebrating 36 years of music making, to the versatile but always fun stylings of the band Rewind, hailing from Louisiana. Rewind won’t be able to rewind the year as they finish out the party, playing all the way through to 1:15 am on New Year’s morning.
Fireworks will serve as the backdrop to the pelican, both of them lighting up the midnight sky as confetti falls on the city. The party downtown might draw to an end, but there are other New Year traditions to still be had. The Flora-Bama Lounge will host its Polar Bear Dip on Jan. 1, in Perdido Key where they invite you to come wash the old year away in the Gulf of Mexico. A similar event, the Polar Bear plunge, takes place on Pensacola Beach at Paradise Bar and Grill as well.
Those who want to have a good time on the town, do not have to look far to find afun event. For those who wish to stay home and enjoy the night quietly, they are already set. In the end, enjoying the moment is what it is really about. Here’s to 2015