ALBANY -- It seems in recent years that New Year's Eve parties have fallen out of fashion. This year, however, the trend is being bucked with music, dressing up, nostalgia, some serious sparkle and midnight fireworks.
At least three different parties in Albany will be in full swing when 2012 debuts, including one that harkens to the days of elegant formal parties.
"A Night That Glitters" will get started at 7:30 p.m. at the Merry Acres Event Center, 1500 Dawson Road. Members of the Junior League of Albany are launching what they hope will become an annual tradition that will also benefit some local charitable groups.
"This is the first one that the Junior League of Albany has done," Staci Wright, who is co-chairing the event with Leigh Ann Shipley, said this week. Wright said the Junior League usually has a formal gala in February or March, but decided to move it up the calendar this year.
"We were thinking about it and we said, hey, nothing really goes on in town New Year's Eve and we hear so many people say, 'I wish there was something formal to go to so we can go out New Year's Eve,' " she said. "So, that's what led us to plan this event."
Admission to party is $50 per person and dress is formal -- short, fancy cocktail dress or ball gown for women; tuxedo or dark suit for men. Entertainment will be provided by the New South Players, which plays a variety of music including Motown, oldies and contemporary, until the video ball, sponsored by Tony's Gym, drops at midnight.
"They've played at several people's weddings around here, and we've gotten some real good feedback from them," Wright said.
But the biggest draw may be the ice, as in a pair of $4,000 diamond earrings that will be raffled. Tickets to win the prize are $50 each.
"They are a one-carat pair of earrings total weight from Allen's Jewelers," Wright said. "We'll have champagne glasses and each one will have the Junior League logo and a pair of earrings inside. Whoever participates in the raffle gets to keep the glass and the earrings, and one glass will have the one-carat pair and all the rest will be cubic zirconium.
"We're only selling about 100 raffle tickets. You'll turn in your ticket at what we're calling the Diamond Bar and you'll get your glass with your earrings in it. Then you'll go over to the jeweler and he'll inspect the earrings and write down your name. Toward the end of the night, we'll announce the winner. Only the jeweler is going to know who has the real pair."
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Children's Miracle Network, Albany Autism Center and the Lily Pad.
Downtown, meanwhile, party-goers will turn back the clock even further -- to the 1920s. Martha Palmer-McCorvey with the fledgling Moving Mountains charitable organization is heading up a Roaring '20s New Year's Eve Party from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. at Cafe 230, 230 W. Broad Ave.
Only active about eight weeks, Moving Mountains is working to complete its non-profit status, but the group has already conducted projects, such as a pair of Christmas parties -- one for a senior adults and another for adults facing mental challenges. McCorvey plans for the organization to find ways to help that are completely local and on a smaller scale than major charities focus on.
Like the Junior Leaguers, McCorvey said she planned her party to fill a void she found when she returned to Albany from Florida.
"I moved back to Albany in July of last year and all I've heard is there's nothing to do," she said. Remembering the numerous year-end events in Jacksonville, "I said I just didn't understand why people didn't do it here," she said.
Admission to the Roaring '20s party is $15 per person or $25 per couple in advance, $20 person and $30 per couple at the door. Festivities include champagne and party favors, along with a roving photographer. Entertainment will be provided by a band out of Panama City, Fla. -- Sammy and the Slamrz. "They promised me they'd have a good following here," she said.
There's a dress code of sorts for this party as well -- organizers hope folks will dress the part, doing their best imitations of mobsters and mols. Everyone who attends will get a fedora-style party hat or a flapper headband with feather.
"Dressing up is not mandatory, but it's encouraged," McCorvey said.
After seeing the revival in downtown Jacksonville, McCorvey said she hopes events like this New Year's Eve party will be catalysts for reviving Albany's downtown. "I would love to see downtown get good again," she said.
Further north at the VFW Post 2785, 315 Philema Road, the veterans organization will be conducting a New Year's Eve dance party from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. The post normally has a New Year's Eve party, but had to skip the event last year.
Entertainment will be provided by Southern Charm. The band is "more country and western," Rogers said, "but they also play a variety."
Admission is $8 per person and the event is open to everyone -- not just veterans of foreign wars.
"That's kind of a misconception that people have about us," Nicki Rogers, senior vice president with the state of Georgia's VFW auxiliary, said, adding that only the VFW meetings are restricted to members only.
"We encourage the public to come in and to participate in anything we do," she said. "We're good folks and we hope folks will come out."
Like many organizations, the VFW post has been struggling financially, but the group is working to attract more people to its events. "We're trying to get our dances started back on Saturday nights," Rogers said.
When midnight rolls around, any of these venues should be a good spot to see 2012 come in with a bang. That's because the city of Albany at midnight will launch an overhead fireworks show from the Veterans Ampitheater.
Wes Smith, assistant city manager, said the city has no specific event tied to the fireworks display, which should be on par with the city's popular Fourth of July show.
"It'll be going off at midnight on New Year's Eve," Smith said, adding the show will last 20-25 minutes. He said it will be visible from anywhere in the downtown area.
For contact information on these events, see the Coming Up calendar on page 6C of today's SouthView section.