New Year’s Eve revelers and Dallas Stars fans mingled outside American Airlines Center during festivities at the second Big D/NYE New Year’s Eve celebration at Victory Park Wednesday night.
“It’s too convenient,” said Taylor Hubbard, a resident of The Colony who attended the sold-out Stars game. “Why would you leave?”
Last year, organizers said, the event at the AT&T Plaza got off to a slow start, but it ended with a crowd of nearly 30,000 people.
By 9 p.m. Wednesday, the plaza was already filling up. As midnight approached, it was packed, with crowds filling the surrounding streets.
Some people arrived early to beat the crowds. As the event kicked off about 6:30 p.m., Garland resident Rachel Cortinas was already in place, wearing a blue and silver tiara.
She said she attended the event last year and came early this time to avoid traffic and parking hassles.
“We had such a good time, and it’s free,” she said. “All my friends want to go to clubs, but I can’t take my 15-year-old daughter or my pregnant daughter to a club.”
Nearby restaurants and bars had prepared for the throngs. The wait staff at La Condesa cafe and tequileria worked to establish the right ambience, lighting candles and meticulously setting up a tower of champagne glasses.
Organizers expanded the offerings in and around the plaza for the event, increasing concessions, improving fireworks and adding an additional video screen on Houston Street to encompass more revelers.
Olympic gymnast Carly Patterson, former Cowboys player and Heisman Trophy winner Raghib “Rocket” Ismail and American soldiers home from Iraq participated in the celebration.
The Mo Robson Band kicked off festivities at 6:30 p.m. Cross Canadian Ragweed performed inside House of Blues at 11:15 p.m. while Professor D, a local party band, performed in the plaza.
Mike McDaniel drove from Terrell to support the event, delightedly standing in the plaza with a sign reading, “Free Hugs.”
“The more people in one place, the more hugs I can give away,” he said smiling.