BELFAST, Maine — The city is ramping up for its 13th 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 Thursday night moves into the new year.
Key to the celebration are the many volunteers who help steer visitors to the various venues and assist with the many events. Organizers will need scores of them to make sure it all runs smoothly.
NYBB spokeswoman Mary Mortier said more than 100 volunteers from teens to seniors will be needed for shifts of 2½ hours each from 4 p.m. to midnight Dec. 31.
“It’s fun, it’s indoors, and each volunteer receives a free NYBB admission button,” she said.
Once again, the NYBB ushering in of 2010 will conclude with the “Drum and Rabble Marching Society” 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.
Downtown businessman and City Councilor Michael Hurley organized the marching society and — paraphrasing Shakespeare, who paraphrased England’s King Henry V addressing his troops as they faced the French at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 — noted, “And Mainers, asleep in their beds tonight, will think the comforts they held dear and themselves accursed, that without them, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters, marched and drummed this New Year’s night.”
Hurley called on the entire community to shake off the doldrums of winter and gather under the traffic light at Main and High streets at 11:30 p.m. with drums, gongs, triangles, tin cans, mud buckets, pots and pans, and lengths of pipe to shake, rattle and roll their way to the bonfire on the beach.
“We know,” he challenged. “You think yourselves too old, or too young, or too busy, too hip or too square, or it will be too cold, or, God forbid, noisy. You’re all wrong about all but the last. Join the biggest, noisiest, incendiary, innovative and cacophonic good time, and you won’t be sorry. “
The 13th annual NYBB will be a cultural, family-oriented, chemical-free celebration held at many venues throughout downtown Belfast. There will be more than 40 performances to experience, including musicians playing and singing blues, bluegrass, Celtic favorites, sea chanteys, folk, jazz, swing, standards, breakbeat and rock ’n’ roll. In addition, there will be magic, mime, poetry and storytelling.
Chem-free eateries will sell affordable, hearty and homemade food, including chili, lasagna, soups, stews, pizza, wraps, crepes, desserts, hot drinks and a New Year’s breakfast, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the First Church Hall. The church hall also will welcome the Belfast Bay Fiddlers from 6 to 9:45 p.m. and the folk, soul and rock band OdLaw from 9 to 11:45 p.m.
Among the attractions at this year’s event are Hawk Henries, an American Indian spiritual flute player and storyteller who will perform at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 8 p.m. Henries is a member of the Nipmuc Nation,
Also performing at the UU Church will be an interactive show of magic and illusions geared to the young and young at heart by Conjuring Carroll beginning at 4 p.m.; storyteller, fiddle, banjo and bagpipe player Jennifer Armstrong at 6 p.m.; and the rock power duo Class Machine at 10 p.m.
The Colonial Theatre will host mime Scott Cannon at 6 p.m., the Rousing Rabble of Poets at 8 p.m. and bluegrass artists Free Seedlings at 9 p.m.
The First Church Sanctuary will showcase jazz trio Mr. PC at 5 p.m., Celtic music by Castlebay at 6, 8 and 10 p.m., piano and vocals by Gintare McCurdy at 7 p.m. and the David Dodson Trio at 9 and 11 p.m.
The Belfast Free Library Abbott Room will showcase Spirited Folk at 6 and 7 p.m., the American Songbook piano and vocals of Tango at 8 and 9 p.m., and electronic breakbeat music by Jason, Owen and Josh at 10 and 11 p.m.
The First Baptist Church will feature the Belfast Area High School Swing Chorus and Stage Band at 5 p.m., Blue Hill Brass at 6, 8 and 10 p.m., caricatures by P.J. Carter from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and the Katahdin Valley Boys bluegrass band at 7, 9 and 11 p.m.
The Boathouse at Steamboat Landing will have blues, swing and R&B from Willy Kelly Band from 6 to 8:30 p.m., and jump, swing and rock by Three Button Deluxe from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.
The Belfast Co-op will have George Lirakis singing Irish sea shanties from 5 to 6:45 p.m. and original folk-rock by Rural Electric from 8 to 945 p.m.
The Belfast Curling Club will offer curling lessons from 3 to 5 p.m.
Adult admission buttons are $15, students K-12 are $5, and children under age 5 are admitted free.
Buttons are available in advance at: NYBB Headquarters — The Parent Gallery, Belfast Co-op, Fertile Mind Bookshop, Mr. Paperback, the service desk at Hannaford in Belfast, Belfast Harbor Inn and the Comfort Inn Ocean’s Edge. Buttons also may be purchased during the event at most of the performance venues. For more information, call 338-5870.