New Year’s By the Bay 

Bangor isn’t the only city hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration.Many are heading to Belfast tonight for New Year’s By the Bay.Joy Hollowell tells us about this 16-year tradition.===”New Year’s By the Bay is a chem free, family friendly, cultural celebration of the spirit of Belfast,” says Mary Mortier, Executive Director of New Year’s By the Bay.That includes music, magic, mime, dancing and more. The events take place in about 10 venues throughout the city. Folks buy a button, which gets them into all the performances.”I started coming here when I was probably 18,” says Breanna Pinkham Bebb, Executive Director of Our Town Belfast. “We’d play board games all night and then we’d go do the concerts and march down for the fire. It’s a tradition that started for me when I was younger and I love to see all the families out and that we have an event that’s like this for everybody.”The bon fire is the pinnacle of the party. The fun actually begins about a half hour earlier, with a Drum and Rabble Corp marching down Main street. About 12 professional drummers lead the effort, with everyone invited to bang in.”Many people bring drums, cans, buckets, you name it, shopping carts,” says Michael Hurley, Belfast City Councilman. “Anything you can bang and make noise.””It has this just fabulous, magical, primal beat that you can hear all over Belfast,” adds Mortier.The parade ends at the pier, where at the stroke of Midnight, a huge bonfire is lit.”This is a local, grassroots community event,” says Mortier. “We’re not part of any national franchise. And it was the dream of a mother with young children, who was really the impetuous that put it together 16 years ago.”Craig Cavanaugh is visiting from Connecticut.”It has a whole different flair to it,” said Cavanaugh. “You know, it’s at night, it’s cold, you’re kind of running from spot to spot, you’re jovial.””I think this is as Belfast as Belfast gets,” says Pinkham Bebb.+++For a complete schedule of events, log onto