Whatever 2016 will be remembered for in the future, those who closed it out on Main St. in Columbia at the 6th annual Famously Hot New Year will have fond memories of its ending.
Tens of thousands came downtown for the free event. Many visited the Main Street ICE skating rink and the city-hosted WOW! New Year’s Eve
Party, which included kid-friendly activities such as inflatables, a mechanical bull, and a chance to race down a track inside an inflatable ball.
“It was so cool,” said Jayden Williams, 7, after his ball ride. “I didn’t think I’d be able to get it to move, but I did and then it was easy.”
The biggest attraction, though, was the Famously Hot event, occupying Main Street from Lady to Gervais and down Main to the new stage location at Gervais and Sumter. Food and drinks were available, and an outdoor bar at Main and Gervais even offered big screen televisions for those wanting to enjoy Clemson’s college football playoff win while waiting to count down to midnight.
Visitors also flocked to an interactive art project by local artist Karl Larsen. One side of the piece offered a very special farewell to 2016, featuring a television and a golden toilet. The reverse side gave all passers-by a chance to add words to a map of South Carolina using Scrabble tiles.
The night’s live music began with two local acts: Mike Stone & the Kritikal Band and the Capital City Playboys. Sister Hazel took the stage at 9:15, entertaining the crowd with their hit “All for You” as well as new songs, old favorites, and covers. Headline act Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue followed.
Troy Andrews, better known as Trombone Shorty, showed off the skills that made him a bandleader at the age of 6 and have earned him the chance to perform with some of the biggest names in music (U2, Foo Fighters, Lenny Kravitz, Mark Ronson, Aloe Blacc, Little Big Town, etc.) in addition to leading Orleans Avenue. The band’s energetic mix of jazz and rock had the crowd dancing, and ready for midnight.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin led the countdown, and 2017 arrived along with fireworks bursting in the sky above the State House. Cate Jackson spoke for many as she blew a noisemaker to welcome the new year and said “I’ve been to bigger cities for New Year’s, but Columbia is just the best.”
More photos and video from New Year’s Eve are posted on the Midlands Anchor Facebook page.