BELFAST, Maine — The city is gearing up for the 12th annual New Year’s By The Bay celebration on New Year’s Eve.
The annual event features a wide range of performers and acts at venues throughout the downtown. From the Boathouse at Steamboat Landing to the First Church, planners hope the downtown will be buzzing with excitement and anticipation as Wednesday night moves into the new year.
As is always the case, the NYBB welcoming of 2009 will conclude with the “Drum and Rabble Corps” parade from the traffic light at Main and High streets to the public landing, where members will ignite the annual “Bonfire By The Bay” at midnight.
Some years have started with frigid weather that kept patrons bundled against the cold, while others have been mild enough for people to mill about the downtown well after ringing in the new year. Last year’s event featured a snowstorm, and organizer Mary Mortier hopes this year’s show isn’t a repeat.
“We’re hoping Mother Nature is over with her nonsense,” Mortier joked Wednesday. “I’m keeping my eye on the five-day forecast and hoping for the best.”
Mortier said the early response to this year’s event has been gratifying but stressed that volunteers were needed to help out at the venues. She said volunteers are asked to work a 2½-hour shift in return for free admission to all performances.
“We still need lots of volunteers, so anybody willing to lend a hand will be more than welcome,” she said.
This year’s event features the return of Hawk Henries, an American Indian spiritual flute player and storyteller, who will perform at the First Church at 6 p.m. The popular Henries performed at the first 10 NYBBs but was unable to make last year’s show.
New this year is Portland-based Inanna, Sisters in Rhythm, a percussion and vocal ensemble that explores the heritage and rhythms of West Africa through original arrangements and compositions invoking ancient traditions of the drum. Inanna will jump-start NYBB beginning at 4 p.m. at the Boathouse at Steamboat Landing.
Inanna will be followed by Celtic pipe and drum band Ferg N Sons at 7 p.m. and the jump, swing and rock ’n’ roll band Three Button Delux at 9:30 p.m.
The Colonial Theatre will welcome the acoustic roots group Me and Martha at 6 p.m., a poetry round robin at 7 p.m., followed by Tango at 8 p.m., the Belfast Fab Four Poets at 9 p.m. and a Tango reprise at 10 p.m.
The First Church Hall will be host to the Juke Rockets at 7 p.m., the Odd Law Band at 10 p.m. and a New Year’s Eve breakfast from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The First Church Sanctuary will showcase Hawk Henries at 6 p.m., followed by the a cappella ensemble Ave Maris Stella at 7 p.m., another Henries performance at 8 p.m. and David Dodson Trio at 10 p.m.
The Unitarian Universalist Church will welcome mime Scott Canon at 4 and 5 p.m., folk rock band Rural Electric at 7 p.m. and Abba Rabbi Shabba at 9:30 p.m.
The Belfast Free Library Abbott Room will be host to the Yentes Brothers at 6 and 8 p.m., Seth the Bard at 7 and 9 p.m. and Full Contact Kitty at 10 p.m.
The First Baptist Church will be host to the Belfast Bay Fiddlers at 5 p.m., the Katahdin Valley Boys at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. and Ameranouche at 7, 9 and 11 p.m.
George Lirakis will perform Irish sea shanties at 6 p.m. at the Belfast Coop.
To volunteer, call Mortier at 323-1748 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit nybb.org.