October 3, 2014

Famously Hot New Year Brings the O'Jays to Columbia

Columbia’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration will kick off with a funky Ohio sound. Mayor Steve Benjamin announced Thursday that Famously Hot New Year will be graced with the soulful sounds of the The O’Jays as the city ushers in 2015.

“We know that we have an unequaled quality of life here in the Midlands of South Carolina, and when our residents enjoy themselves at Famously Hot New Year, the feeling is infectious and it only contributes to our attractiveness as a travel destination,” Benjamin said.

Billed as the largest free New Year’s Eve celebration in South Carolina, this year’s party has been expanded to a day-long, multi-event festival. The Main Street Crit race has joined up with Famously Hot to offer a Kids’ Fun Run, 5K and Elite 8K for professional runners.
The city of Columbia Parks and Recreation also will host the WOW New Year’s Eve Carnival in the evening with free games and rides for kids and families.

During the evening New Years Eve party, guests will have access to a food court and “comfort zones” to relax and socialize at the corner of Lady and Main streets. The VIP Crescent Lounge will return this year and will be in front of Capitol Center at the corner of Main and Gervais streets. Catering for the lounge will be provided by Southern Way Catering and free parking will be available for VIP patrons.

Evening performances also include indie-pop band MisterWives as well as local reggae/rock band Lefty at the Washout who will be the opening act. The O’Jays, who have had 24 top-10 hits in their 50-year career, will close out the party until midnight, when Columbia’s skies will light up with a fireworks show.

Benjamin said the Famously Hot New Year committee is working with the COMET to offer an extended-hours schedule, as well as park-and-ride stops in the Harbison and Two Notch areas so patrons have transportation options to and from the party.

The committee also is partnering with businesses in The Vista, Main Street and Five Points to promote holiday menus and after-parties.
“This event has proved good for the region,” said Richland County Council Chairman Norman Jackson.

The Columbia Police Department will maintain crowd control and public safety with a strong presence and cameras, Benjamin said. The event has seen nine arrests in the past three years, a spokesperson with the city said.
Benjamin said Famously Hot New Year is in a better financial footing from the previous year when the event faced debt. City officials invested $130,000 in funds and made the event a line-item within the council’s budget.

The past three years has seen 71,000 attendees, including 26,000 last year. The event also generated a $4 million economic impact, according to Benjamin.

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