A red stick will drop, fireworks will burst and lovers will kiss come the stroke of midnight Dec. 31 in downtown Baton Rouge. That’s the plan, anyway.
This year is the second time Baton Rouge will host Red Stick Revelry, a free frenzy of music, fireworks and togetherness for the capital city to ring in the new year. Last year’s higher-than-expected turnout of 15,000 inspired organizers to add more entertainment and activities this time around.
The goal: Make Baton Rouge a New Year’s Eve destination.
Organizers hope locals and tourists alike will dine downtown before dancing along to the live music in the final hours of 2014. And they don’t want the night to end after “Auld Lang Syne” blasts from the speakers.
Downtown bars and clubs will keep the celebration going until 2 a.m., and organizers are encouraging the partiers to carry on afterward in downtown hotel rooms. A couple of downtown hotels are offering New Year’s specials.
Davis Rhorer, executive director of Baton Rouge’s Downtown Development District, said early estimates show hotels and restaurants have been successful in snagging New Year’s Eve reservations.
Celebrations will begin at 11 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, when children and families are invited to learn line dances and do hands-on activities. The red stick will then ascend 30 feet above the Town Square beacon and Mayor-President Kip Holden will lead the crowd in song.
Louisiana country artist David St. Romain will take the stage at 6:30 p.m. in Galvez Plaza, and local funk/soul band Phat Hat will follow from 9 p.m. until right before midnight.
At 11:59 p.m., the countdown begins. Then the red stick will cascade down and fireworks will explode through the sky, reflecting on the Mississippi River below.
“I have a set music list that we play that we want to make a tradition for Baton Rouge,” Rhorer said. That list will include New Year’s classic “Auld Lang Syne,” as well as Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” and regional favorite “Callin’ Baton Rouge.”
Rhorer said the best spot to see the sparkles is on the town lawn, in front of the River Center Branch library.
Red Stick Revelry will then shut down, and its organizers are encouraging those in attendance to then walk over to the Third Street nightlife to continue into the first hours of 2015.
Rannah Gray, event organizer, said they were happily surprised by the number of families with children who attended Red Stick Revelry last year.
She said they try to find entertainment to appeal to all ages.