Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 15, 2013

Cincy Celebration

Big-city New Year’s Eve alternative not so far away

RAMONA SHEETZ
The Independent

ASHLAND — Each year, hundreds of thousands travel to Times Square in New York City to ring in the New Year.

Most of us, however, will never have the opportunity to experience the thrill of watching the ball drop in the Big Apple because of the expense and distance involved. But this year, you can experience a taste of a big city New Year’s celebration much closer to home in Cincinnati.

In the Queen City, the center of downtown is Fountain Square, which is at the intersection of Fifth and Vine streets. From 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dec. 31, the square is the home for the Huntington Bank New Year’s Eve Blast.

“Our hope is to eventually become a Cincinnati Times Square,” said Christy Samad, event manager, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, which manages Fountain Square. “The celebration really has gotten bigger every year.”

This year, DJ Tweet will provide music, while a local radio station will host the annual dance contest. There also will be food vendors, beverage stations and vendors selling New Year’s Eve novelty items — just like the ones you see in Times Square each year.

And just like New York City has ice skating at Rockefeller Center, Cincinnati has skating at Fountain Square. This time of year, the square is home to the US Bank Ice Rink and during the New Year’s Eve event, ice skating will be free.

“It’s a good time to come out and be social,” Samad said. “There’s no cover charge for the event, so it’s a very cost-effective celebration.”

The event culminates with a fireworks display at midnight from Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks, the world-renowned Cincinnati fireworks company.

Because of the ice rink and the fact that Fountain Square is surrounded by several restaurants and bars, Samad said the New Year’s Eve Blast is an event that attracts people of all ages.

“Fountain Square is a huge melting pot of Cincinnati. You have younger people who will come to the square from the bars and you have older couples who are out to dinner. And we also keep the event very family friendly for parents who want to bring the kids.”

More information about the New Year’s Blast, as well as Fountain Square and the ice rink, can be found at myfountainsquare.com.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly event that allows children to ring in the New Year without keeping them up until midnight, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will have a special New Year’s Eve bash of its own Dec. 31 from 5 to 9 p.m. Children can meet Father Time and Baby Zoo Year and be part of an early Zoo Year Countdown starting at 8:55 p.m. But the little ones won’t miss out on a great fireworks show, as Rozzi’s will be at the zoo as well.

New Year’s Eve partiers also can enjoy the zoo’s 31st annual PNC Festival of Lights, which features more than 2 million LED lights around the zoo. And, of course, they can visit with zoo animals, including many cold climate animals, such as polar bears and reindeer, experiencing their favorite time of the year.

Ticket prices and more information are available at CincinnatiZoo.org.

But if you’re looking for a fun and strictly adult party, Cincinnati can deliver that, too, with the CityBeat New Year’s Eve Speakeasy Party at the Know Theatre in the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

From 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, the theater will be transformed into a 1923 nightclub right out of the Prohibition era. Partygoers will don fedoras and flapper dresses to enjoy food from local restaurants, speakeasy-themed cocktails, live swing music, gaming, gangster movies and a champagne toast at midnight.

“People love to dress up for New Year’s Eve,” said Alexandra Kesman, managing director of the Know Theatre. “This theme provides something really popular right now. People love to become flappers and gangsters.”

Tickets are $15 in advance and $25 starting Dec. 24 at noon and can be purchased by phone or online. The party is the professional theater company’s biggest fundraiser. More information is available at knowtheatre.com or by calling (513) 300-KNOW.

Information about all of Cincinnati’s New Year’s Eve events, as well as details on accommodations and other local happenings, can be found at CincinnatiUSA.com.