Free New Year’s Eve event drew 35,000 visitors to downtown Columbia, S.C., increased economic impact by 20%
March 23, 2016 (COLUMBIA, S.C.) – Famously Hot New Year (FHNY), South Carolina’s biggest free New Year’s Eve celebration, drew an estimated 35,000 people to downtown Columbia, S.C., on Dec. 31, 2015. Economic impact on local hotels and restaurants increased by 20% to total more than $1.2 million, and a higher percentage of visitors attended from outside of the city, county and state than in previous years. The fifth annual event featured a free concert by GRAMMY-winning recording artist Ms. Lauryn Hill, three S.C. homegrown bands and the most colossal NYE fireworks display in the two Carolinas.
Revelers from 36 states and ten countries gathered on S.C.’s Main Street to celebrate a new year of strength and renewal after a tough year for the Palmetto State in 2015. 52% of attendees came from outside of Richland County, and 75% of attendees came from outside of the City of Columbia. Significant donations were collected for Harvest Hope Food Bank and the One SC Flood Relief Fund.
Downtown hotel occupancy rose from 63%-98% in 2014 to 85%-100% in 2015, and hotels near areas such as Fort Jackson and Harbison saw an increase in occupancy from 26-60% in 2014 to 43%-100% in 2015. Hotel revenues are estimated at $578,574 for 2015, up from $486,500 in 2014; restaurant revenues are estimated at $635,199 for 2015, up from $551,048 in 2014. Economic impact on the hotel and restaurant industry is estimated at more than $1.2 million, an increase of 20% from the prior year’s $1 million.
The Comet transported 800 people to/from Main Street along twelve routes; a typical weekend night sees about 100 riders. Many FHNY riders were new to the Comet and were therefore introduced to public transportation in a very positive and unique manner.
FHNY made concerted efforts to recycle, including mandating that vendors use recycled or recyclable materials for food and beverage. The City of Columbia recycling team reports that more than 914 pounds of material were recycled from the event. USC was instrumental in supporting the new focus on recycling and measurement of recyclables.
There were no arrests within the controlled area of the FHNY celebration. Concerns regarding crowding are being addressed by organizers in collaboration with the Columbia Police Department. The Budweiser Alert Cab program again partnered with Checker Yellow Cab to pay the first $10 of rides home for event guests.
The free concert at FHNY was headlined by Ms. Lauryn Hill, iconic five-time GRAMMY-winning R&B performing artist, who sang some of her greatest hits from her debut solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill including “Doo Wop (That Thing),” and “Ex-Factor;” well-known covers, and new tracks, like the Christmas Day 2015-released “A Cradle in Bethlehem.” Charleston-based SUSTO, Columbia’s “folk-hop” project ColorBlind and Charleston group Dead 27s opened for Ms. Hill.
Famously Hot New Year is not possible without the support of civic and corporate sponsors. The City of Columbia and Richland County hospitality tax provided close to 40% of funding, while more than 60% of funding was provided by corporate citizens. Presenting Sponsor: BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (#LiveFearlessSC); Gold Sponsors: Aflac, WLTX; Healthy Living Sponsor: Palmetto Health; Fireworks Sponsor: SCE&G; Silver Sponsors: Hub at Columbia, Colonial Life, Pepsi of the Carolinas, Alpha Media and Budweiser/KW Beverage.
About Famously Hot New Year
Set in historic downtown Columbia, S.C., Famously Hot New Year is the Palmetto State’s largest New Year’s Eve party, with a free, live outdoor concert by a national headliner and the most colossal NYE fireworks display in the two Carolinas. Famously Hot New Year draws a diverse crowd of more than 35,000 guests from across the region, nation and world to S.C.’s Main Street to enjoy a free concert and fireworks; regional food vendors; plentiful cash bars with beer, wine and bubbly in a festival atmosphere; a family-friendly street carnival and ice rink; free parking and more in Columbia, S.C., the “New Southern Hot Spot.” In its fifth year, Famously Hot New Year extended its mission of bringing diverse communities together by supporting the One SC Flood Relief Fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation, with the hope of ringing in a new year of strength and renewal for our #SCStrong state. Learn more about #FHNY and donate to #SCFloodRelief at www.famouslyhotnewyear.com.
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