By Jeff Noble
When the last day of 2012 comes to an end this Monday night, you’ll have a choice of places in the Tri-County to go for ringing in the New Year.
Barbourville’s last night-first day attraction remains rigged up and ready to go, as that city’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Celebration lights up the night sky for the seventh straight year. The festivities — which include a fireworks show moments after the ball drops — begin at 10 p.m. Monday at the baseball field of Barbourville Recreation Park.
Over at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, their “New Year’s Eve Bash and New Year’s Day Hike” is dusting off the dance floor, getting ready for a new generation of rug-cutters to dig the tunes. The next day, brunch will be held, but if you feel like hitting the trail for the first day of 2013, the park’s “First Hike” laces up their shoes Tuesday at 10 a.m.
And if memories of the country and rock group “Exile” are your cup of cheer on the first night of 2013, a “New Year’s Eve Bash” features Les Taylor of “Exile” and Vee Rader and His Band. The bash starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Corbin Civic Center, off Gordon Hill Pike.
Barbourville’s star attraction features a seven-foot round ball made up of PVC plastic pipe and six-inch standard wire lighting. Made by city employees, the ball contains some 110 strobes and about 1,150 flashing light bulbs. When the countdown begins, the ball drops downward, and at exactly midnight, the crowd goes into a frenzy. The fireworks display follows immediately afterwards.
Jim Baker, the city superintendent for Barbourville, said this year’s event will pretty much be like last year’s New Year’s Eve festivities.
“We’ll give out hot chocolate and coffee once people come in at 10 o’clock, and we’ll have a local DJ play the hit sounds and hits from the past, so people can dance. We’ll have the party favors passed out around 11:30, a half-hour before midnight. If it’s raining or snowing, we’re going to have it regardless,” Baker noted.
The tradition in Barbourville began in 2000 by the late James E. Thompson, who was mayor at the time. His son, and the current mayor, David Thompson, revived it in 2006. Last year, an estimated 250 people took in the festivities.
Baker stressed the event has always been one where families and children are most welcome to attend and have fun.
“It’s a family-friendly celebration. No alcohol is allowed, we have city employees and their families helping out, and we want people to bring their kids and their families here to have a great time for the New Year.”
One of several Kentucky State Parks offering special events on New Year’s Eve, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park’s annual bash begins Monday at 8 p.m. and ends at 1 a.m., with dance music played by DJ Jeff Petrey of Radio Active Sounds. Special packages are available for those who would like to make an overnight stay of the last night of the year, and have become quite popular, according to the park’s trail maintenance coordinator, Pam Gibson.
“What’s called the ‘Special Package’ includes dinner, dance, a lodge room and brunch for two on New Year’s Day. The ‘Cottage Package’ includes a cottage for the night, plus the dinner and dance and breakfast for two on New Year’s Day. There are some who come here year after year to the bash, and they appreciate the little packages offered to them,” Gibson said.
The next day, the park holds a “First Hike,” which begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Dupont Lodge. Gibson noted Cumberland Falls is one of several state parks that participates in the hike, which promotes healthy lifestyles at state parks across America.
“It’s becoming a traditional park event here in Kentucky, and last year, we had 16 people come to take a hike with us. It’s our second year for the hike, and we’ll go about four miles. It’ll be an ‘easy to moderate’ hike, and if you’re going, bring a lunch, a snack, some water and a camera.”
The park will also begin their “Trail Trekking” Series next Saturday, Jan. 5. The series of hikes will take place on the first Saturday of each month, starting at 10 a.m., also at the Dupont Lodge.
More information on the bash, and the hike, can be found at the website, parks.ky.gov, by calling 1-800-255-7275, or at the Friends of Cumberland Falls Facebook page.
At the Corbin Civic Center, the “New Year’s Eve Bash” begins at 7:30 p.m. It features performances by Vee Rader and His Band, along with special guest Les Taylor of “Exile.” One of the organizers, Charlene Brady, said appetizers and soft drinks will be available at the bash. Advance tickets are $30 per person, or $50 per couple, and can be purchased at any Hometown Bank location. Tickets at the door are $40 a person. For more information, contact Brady at 859-559-6889.