Though most of the things people have come to expect from Bangor’s New Year’s Eve Downtown Countdown will return this year — the ball drop, the family-friendly activities, the music and dancing — one big thing will not be part of the fun this Monday night.
The central gathering area, usually a large tent set up in West Market Square with bands and DJs playing inside, will not be featured at this year’s event.
George Kinghorn, chairman of Downtown Bangor Partnership, which organizes the event, said that after no responses to the request for proposals for the central gathering area, the DBP re-evaluated what the Downtown Countdown could offer.
“The big variable with New Year’s Eve is the weather,” said Kinghorn, also the director and curator of the University of Maine Museum of Art. “Last year was just really, really cold. Some years we’ve had tons of snow. Some years it’s just not worth it to have anything outdoors, other than the ball drop. Unless someone wants to drop some money for a fully heated tent, it’s just too unpredictable to manage that sort of thing.”
That said, Kinghorn said everything else that’s traditionally been part of the now 15-year-old event is set to take place. For family-friendly fun, Maine Discovery Museum will offer face-painting, an animal show, hat and noisemaker making and wax fortune telling, starting at 11 a.m. and continuing until around 7:30 p.m. The Bangor Public Library’s annual Family Friendly New Year’s Eve Party is set for 5-8 p.m., and will feature a pop-up planetarium with four shows (reservations required and can be made by calling 947-8336), two magic shows with The Amazing Lou, and lots of crafts and games.
A number of other downtown businesses and venues are offering fun for all ages, including a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tribute band at 6 and 9 p.m. at the Bangor Opera House (tickets available by calling 942-3333); an art opening for painter Flynn Costello and music from the Tough End String Band at 7 p.m. at The Rock & Art Shop; and a Story Slam storytelling showcase at 9 p.m. at West Market Square Artisan Coffeehouse.
There are two themed parties happening that night as well; a five-course special New Year’s Eve dinner, with seatings between 5:30 and 9 p.m., at the Tarratine (992-4090); and a Great Gatsby/1920s-themed party at Queen City Cinema Club (942-2100), starting at 9 p.m. Reservations or tickets are required for both.
Since it is New Year’s Eve, after all, nearly all the bars in downtown Bangor have something fun planned. Songwriter Adam Babcock is at Nocturnem Drafthaus; Tickle is at Downunder Club at Seasons; Overdrive is at Penobscot Pourhouse; and there are deejayed NYE dance parties at both Sea Dog and Half Acre Nightclub. Other bars and taprooms, like 2 Feet Brewing, Orono Brewing Company, Black Bear Brewing, Carolina Sports & Spirits, Hero’s, the Waverly and the Main Tavern, all will be open late.
And, of course, there’s the ball drop, when Paddy Murphy’s owner John Dobbs and his staff at midnight huck an extra large beach ball with decorated Christmas lights off the fifth-floor roof of the building, and into the amassed crowd.
Kinghorn said that for future Downtown Countdowns, he and the DBP are open to new ideas for fun stuff to do on New Year’s Eve.
“If anyone has a really innovative and unique idea for another year, we’re all ears,” said Kinghorn. “We’d love to keep growing and adding new things and new experiences for what’s always been a really fun night.”