Famously Hot gala gets more famous

In its second year, event fills Main Street

nophillips@thestate.comJanuary 1, 2013 

Columbia rang in 2013 with another huge street party as thousands strolled up and down Main Street, hobnobbed in special VIP rooms and danced to everything from old-school rhythm and blues to rock ’n’ roll.

The city had a tough act to follow after 20,000 people showed up for the inaugural Famously Hot New Year’s Eve party in 2012. But the 2013 edition can credit its success to 2012’s reputation.

“I had a ball last year,” said Charlene Pryor of Columbia.

She talked her friend Ulysia Casey into driving up from Charleston for it. They were especially excited about one act.

“My favorite group is...,” Pryor began.

The women screamed in unison, “Atlantic Starr!”

Organizers did not have a full count of Monday night’s attendance. But 7,000 people registered for free tickets in advance. And the three associated dinners and receptions were sold out, said Sam Johnson, one of the organizers.

By 11 p.m., thousands had jammed onto Main Street where the party stretched three blocks down.

Local acts Reggie Sullivan and Terence Young and the Finesse Band started the party. DJ Biz Markie got hips moving with a DJ set that took revelers on a trip of musical highlights from the 1980s. He had folks moving to the beats of artists ranging from Run DMC to Cindi Lauper.

Biz Markie’s sets sandwiched a performance by R&B group Atlantic Starr, best known for their hit “Secret Lover.”

Organizers are aiming for the Famously Hot New Year’s Eve party to become a premier event in the Southeast. Their goal appears attainable.

Reggie Hopkins of Grand Bay, Ala., read about the event on the Internet and decided to bring his family for a mini-vacation. As a huge football fan, he planned to check out Williams-Brice Stadium. And the family wanted to try ice skating at the temporary rink at Boyd Plaza.

“We came to see the entertainment and see the city,” Hopkins said.

Food and drink vendors lined Main Street. A bank of TVs attracted an early crowd to watch the Clemson/LSU bowl game. And a psychic offering $5 fortune readings had a crowd lined down a sidewalk.

Petera Barnello of Columbia and Deva Stevens of Charleston we’re hoping for predictions of good fortune in 2013, especially where their love lives were concerned.

“Whether it’s something good or bad, I like to be prepared,” Stevens said.

Patty and Mitch Snider drove down from Anderson. They had traveled to Gatlinburg and Savannah for past New Year’s parties so they knew how to dress for an outdoor street festival.

Mitch wore blinking red, yellow and blue glasses with frames formed to spell 2013. Patti wore a red sparkly top hat and red and black masquerade mask.

They noticed few others wearing similar New Year’s-themed gear and suggested Columbia get into the swing next year.

“Some guy offered me $20 for my glasses,” Mitch Snider said. “I turned him down even though these only cost $2.”

Snider joked he might sell the blinking glasses if he needed more beer money later in the night. “We’re having a good time down here,” he said.

Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8397.

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