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Albany ready to ring in the New Year

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

ALBANY -- New Year's Eve celebrations are known for being rowdy and rambunctious-a time of carefree celebration to mark the end of a long year and a hectic holiday season.

Some local residents seem to be opting for more low-key celebrations this year, though.

Sierra Jennelle, who is usually in Albany for the holidays, says that, "I won't be doing anything this year 'cause my boyfriend will be working ... but usually we have a family get-together at somebody's house and just hang out for a little while."

Jessica Galvin, likewise, says that, "Our New Year's plans are very family-oriented. I'll be staying at home with my husband and children, personally."

These sentiments are echoed by Roxanne Rodgers of Sylvester who says, "You know Sylvester's a little town. If you want to have a party or something, you've gotta do something yourself."

"We just get together with family and friends," Rodgers says. "And then we usually go to church for Watch Night."

According to Sheila Jones Eaddy, executive assistant to the senior pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Watch Night is a New Year's Eve observance which is "traditionally a time for us to gather and have devotionals."

"We have two to three sermons, starting about 9 p.m.. Then, close to midnight, maybe a minute to 12, we gather together and bring the new year in together with Fellowship," Eaddy says.

Similarly, Edith Cross at Evangelical Faith Vision Ministries says that their Watch Night services are "like a regular church service with a praise celebration at midnight."

Cross adds that the church is doing something a bit different to spice up Watch Night this year.

"We're having a special dinner with jazz music and poetry before our service," she says.

Still, many area residents are opting to ring in 2011 with bubbly, even if the New Year's Eve bash is at home.

Clayton Rees, a five-year employee of the Warehouse Package Store, said, "We have been busy from open to close."

"The whole holiday season is really busy," he says. "We usually sell a lot of champagne to a lot of people."

However, for those who prefer an even bigger crowd, the Crowbar and One Trick Pony will be having concerts on New Year's Eve, as will the State Theatre, where Drivin' N' Cryin' will be performing.

Lane Rosen, co-owner of the State Theatre said, "Drivin' N' Cryin' is our seventh anniversary show. We're really excited about that. And we'll have free champagne at midnight to celebrate the new year."

According to John Luttrell, owner of both the Crowbar and One Trick Pony, there will be a big New Year's Eve celebration at both of his venues as well.

"Speedcoach is playing at One Trick Pony," says Luttrell. "And Running Down Romance will be playing at the Crowbar."

At the Crowbar, Luttrell said, "The doors open at 7 (p.m.) and there's a $10 cover charge. There'll be complimentary party favors -- hats and noisemakers and stuff.

"At midnight there'll be a big balloon drop with cash and prizes and, of course, we'll have complimentary champagne."

One important thing to remember is that a good time can turn bad quickly if it's mixed with driving. Those who over-imbibe and don't utilize a designated driver could start out the new year in a place they'd rather avoid.

Phyllis Banks of the Albany Police Department warned that driving under the influence of alcohol has serious consequences.

"We will use every available officer to man the streets (on New Year's Eve)," Banks said. "We have a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence.

"If you're driving drunk, you're going to jail."