Gatlinburg rings in the new year

 

Sparks stream down from the platform of the Space Needle moments before the night sky lit up with a dazzling array of colorful fireworks. / Photo courtesy of Eric Chiles

Sparks stream down from the platform of the Space Needle moments before the night sky lit up with a dazzling array of colorful fireworks. / Photo courtesy of Eric Chiles

More than 50,000 revelers crowded the Parkway of Gatlinburg New Year’s Eve night to ring in the new year and celebrate new beginnings. The party atmosphere was particularly evident near Ole’ Smoky Moonshine Distillery where partiers gathered for a free moonshine tasting. After leaving Ole’ Smoky, they walked the short distance to the neighboring outlets making their rounds at the Winery, the Daiquiri Bar, Davy Crockett’s and other neighboring establishments where free samples of alcoholic beverages could be procured.

Lines waited patiently outside restaurants along the Parkway which were packed with hungry patrons ready to “get their party on.” Nearing midnight tens of thousands of celebrants converged at the base on the Space Needle where the ball was set to drop at midnight for the 27th year. The annual ball drop is the climax for the New Year’s celebration. With three minutes left before midnight, the large lighted sphere began a slow descent as the anticipation of the crowd mounted. The frigid temperatures that dipped as low as 20 degrees did nothing to discourage the festive spirit of the masses. While some sipped mixed drinks, others clutched cups of hot apple cider or hot coffee in their hands to fend off the late night chill.

Thousands of revelers gathered at the Space Needle in Gatlinburg to ring in the New Year on New Year's Eve. / Photo by Eric Chiles

Thousands of revelers gathered at the Space Needle in Gatlinburg to ring in the New Year on New Year’s Eve. / Photo by Eric Chiles

In the waning seconds of the 2014, the crowd began counting down from ten. At the stroke of midnight, it roared with excitement as a dazzling array of fireworks, fired from atop the Space Needle, lit up the night sky. Fountains of sparks descended from the platform as artillery shells streaked across the sky illuminating the night with bursts of vibrant colors and filling the air with percussion of the blasts. Below, thousands welcomed the new year with kisses and noise makers.

Less than an hour after the ball drop, the crowd that had jammed the streets of Gatlinburg thinned considerably as revelers retreated to their hotels to escape the bone-chilling cold to sleep off the fun and frolic of the night.

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