Arts and Culture

Shani Gilchrist



Starting 2013 with the Famously Hot and Positive

Posted 1/3/2013 2:33:00 PM

Last year, when the calendar changed from 2011 to 2012, I was in a hotel room on the West Coast with my two boys sleeping on the other side of a partition. I was sighing heavily as I scrolled through Facebook on my phone, feeling totally left out as people in Columbia were posting about the amazing time they were having at the first-ever Famously Hot New Year celebration. George Clinton and Parliament were going to play on stage, the South Carolina weather was perfect, and I pouted until I fell asleep at midnight.

This year I was very happy to be back in South Carolina for the New Year. The last time my husband and I went out and about to ring in 12 months of possibilities was in college, so 13 years later (!!) we decided to give it another go by checking in to the Sheraton Columbia Hotel and partying to the sounds of The Wallflowers, Atlantic Starr, Biz Markie, The Reggie Sullivan Band, and The Terence Young Experience.

On New Year’s Eve, the corner of Main and Gervais streets was shut down all the way to the city’s main artery, Assembly Street. A gigantic stage was erected, barricades put in place, and a party was thrown that would be talked about for the rest of 2013. The national groups that came to perform were thrilled with the warm enthusiasm of the outdoor crowd, which stood in 40-degree (and dropping) temperatures to dance, sing and partake in the positive and diverse energy that filled the air. Soon after their arrival to town I was able to chat with Greg Richling and Rami Jaffee of The Wallflowers, who were impressed with the food and culture that the area has to offer. Richling even took advantage of the Columbia Museum of Art’s free Sunday admission to see the Rothko exhibition!

Before the festivities began I had the chance to speak with Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin about what the evening meant for the city and for tourists looking for a friendly place to celebrate the year. He likened the event to a sort of Times Square with Southern Hospitality … a combination that is a perfect mix of stylish festivities and people who genuinely want to see each other have a great time. This is exactly what my husband and I experienced as we wandered the streets and the various venues serving food and drinks. Everyone was happy to see each other, everyone was thrilled to move into 2013, and everyone was ready to party. Even the members of Atlantic Starr were infected with this energy, which was a refreshing way to start the next 365 days.

This was the second edition of Columbia’s Famously Hot New Year, and with such goodness carrying it, the entire state is glad to see it become an annual tradition. The rumor is that the event drew 5,000 more than the 20,000 locals and tourists who attended the first party, so make a note to start making hotel and restaurant plans in the coming months!