Downtown Columbia’s outdoor party to greet the New Year hit its stride with the bash that ended early Thursday, organizers say.
What appeared to be a record crowd attended the fourth edition of the New Year’s Eve event, co-chairman Sam Johnson said, adding problems were few.
Lessons learned from past celebrations made for “a very, very smooth night,” he said.
Attendance figures for this year’s version of the Famously Hot New Year party won’t be available before Monday. However, near the end of the event, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said Wednesday night saw a record turnout.
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An estimated 26,000 partygoers attended the event a year ago, organizers have said.
Preliminary tallies suggest an increase of a few thousand, Johnson said.
The gathering again featured nationally known and local bands, fireworks, carnival rides and ice skating spread along Main Street, north of the State House.
Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook, who was overseeing security for the party for the first time in his new job, described the crowd as “very well-behaved.”
City officers arrested two people for disorderly conduct inside the event, he said. There were four arrests for drunken driving afterward, he added.
Last year, there were five arrests for disorderly conduct, drunkenness and public urination in and around the party.
Holbrook declined to say how many police officers were on hand, other than to say it was “a few more” than in previous years. More than 60 officers were assigned to the event last year.
Organizers aren’t sure yet if the event will avoid another financial deficit. After previous Famously Hot parties, organizers have had to seek additional taxpayer-paid aid to erase red ink.
But Johnson, a Benjamin aide, said Thursday that he had “a really good feeling” that the event finished the night in good shape financially.
The price tag for the latest installment of the city-sponsored party was $433,000, with $230,000 coming from the city and Richland County. Corporate sponsors chipped in slightly more than $190,000 for this year’s celebration.