Local News

Happy New Year! Raleigh Rings in 2008

Posted December 30, 2007 1:53 p.m. EST
Updated October 12, 2011 9:49 a.m. EDT

— Dancers, musicians, magicians and thousands of New Year's Eve revelers converged on downtown Raleigh to ring in 2008.

They were all there for the Triangle's biggest public celebration of the year - First Night Raleigh. Excitement was in the air as crowds made their way up and down Fayetteville Street to take in the big street party.

The Holcomb family made the trip from Durham. It was their first time taking in Raleigh's First Night Children's Celebration. The kids got a chance to showcase their artistic side, crafting signs to welcome the New Year.

“It’s kid-friendly,” mother Michelle Holcomb said.

The Children's Celebration this year toasted the year of 1967, the summer of peace and love and all things psychedelic.

“It’s a lot of fun for them,” said dad Dan Bauer. “They like to see the early Acorn drop. It gives them a chance to be part of things without staying up too late."

The night’s festivities began with the annual People’s Procession – a parade everyone got to be a part of.

“[It] just brings everyone together in a festive atmosphere,” said Ivan Dickey.

Organizers wrapped up final preparations for the 17th First Night Raleigh celebration Monday in anticipation for a yearly event which brings out the young and the young at heart to ring in the new year.

The last banners for the Countdown to First Night project were unveiled over the weekend. This new festival feature was an outdoor visual art project consisting of 30 banners displayed on the outside of the Alexander Square Parking Deck.

Decorated by local art students, professional artists and community organizations, a different banner was unveiled each day beginning Dec. 2.

The Acorn, which has been lowered to ring in the New Year every year at First Night Raleigh, was moved from its regular home in Moore Square Park to downtown near the Capital Bank Plaza at the corner of Fayetteville and Davie streets early Monday morning.

More than 100 performers were there for the festivities, which were headlined by Grammy-nominated singer and Raleigh native Tift Merritt.

World Welcomes New Year

Meanwhile Monday, a million revelers cheered fireworks in Sydney, Australia – one of the first cities to celebrate the New Year. Beijing started the year with fireworks, singing and dancing put on by the organizers of the Summer Olympics.

In London, people gathered in Trafalgar Square and along the banks of the River Thames to watch a fireworks display and hear Big Ben – Parliament's iconic bell – welcome the New Year with 12 resounding bongs.

In a quirky tradition in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, Madrid residents planned to dine on 12 grapes – one for each chime at midnight.

Berlin was braced for a massive fete: In a stretch leading from the city's famous Brandenburg Gate along Tiergarten park to the western part of town, officials set up three stages, 13 bands, 40-yard tall Ferris wheel and over 100 beer stands and snack joints.

In Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI took a somber note, lamenting what he called the "trivialization" of sexuality and lack of faith among young people during a vespers' service in St. Peter's Basilica.