Take the Plunge Into 2014 With A Polar Bear Dip
By: Kelly Woodard
You partied hard all night on New Year’s Eve. Your head is pounding, and you need some relief. Channel your inner Polar Bear, and hit the icy cold waters of the Gulf of Mexico to wake you up and spring you into 2014.
Located on the Florida/Alabama line, the Flora-Bama’s Annual Polar Bear Dip and Pensacola Beach’s Paradise Bar and Grill’s Annual Polar Bear Plunge will give you an opportunity to show off your wild side this Wednesday January 1st by wading into the water braving the bitter cold and a nagging hangover.
The Flora-Bama’s Polar Bear Dip begins at high noon on January 1st, and swimmers will receive a free traditional New Year’s Day meal complete with good luck Black Eyed Peas and greens. Spectators can also enjoy the meal for a small fee.
Why would anyone swim in January? Polar Bear Dip veteran, Jim Sutton responded, “It’s kind of an initiation. Every crazy local I know has done it at least once.”
After the “Dip” and the meal, there will be various live entertainment on two stages throughout the day and night, ringing in the New Year as only the Flora-Bama can.
Noon too early for you to get moving? Then, head over to Paradise Bar and Grill on Pensacola Beach for the Polar Bear Plunge beginning promptly at 2 pm. The emerald waters of Santa Rosa Sound are filled with those hardy souls who wade, swim and scurry to the finish line. Heaping bowls of black-eyed peas wait to warm them. There is a small entry fee that benefits the Chamber; however there is no charge to cheer on your favorite polar bear.
For more information on either event, visit www.florabama.com or www.visitpensacolabeach.com
Ring In the New Year At the Pensacola Pelican Drop
By: Kelly Woodard
Whether you’re in New York watching the ball drop or hitting the town with friends, everyone loves New Year’s Eve. Be a part of a Gulf Coast tradition at the Annual Pensacola Pelican Drop this Tuesday, December 31st in Downtown Pensacola.
Hosted by the Downtown Improvement Board (DIB), the streets will be filled with revelers from across the country counting down to 2014 with the Gulf Coast’s most unique New Year’s icon, a giant illuminated pelican.
Throughout the evening, the Pelican, which is 14 feet tall, with a 20-foot wingspan, will be perched above the celebration on a 100-foot platform at the intersection of Palafox and Government Streets. The celebration’s high point will be the giant illuminated pelican descending at the stroke of midnight amidst fireworks and confetti.
DIB Organizers have also expanded the Kids’ area and feature a unique, kids' countdown at 8 pm with copious amounts of confetti, and the incredibly fun and humorous, "bubble stomp."
Mayor Ashton Hayward directed the DIB to run with the program based on its successful promotion and management of other events for the city including the highly touted Gallery Night. “This is a fantastic celebration for the entire family. Kids, Parents, Grandparents and Great-Grandparents can join hands and sing in the New Year with us,” said Terri Kuvach, Special Events Coordinator for DIB. And best of all? All concerts and events are free.”
Festivities begin at 5 pm with three big stages full of live entertainment all night long. Beginning at 5:30 pm on the main stage is Characters on the Go followed by the Bubble Stomp at 7:45 pm and the Raising of the Pelican at 8 pm. Then the music gets cranked up at 8:15 pm with Antoine Knight, a talented sax player and band leader whose classic alto-driven funk and bluesy keyboard harmonies will have you dancing in the streets.
Then at 9:45pm, join Blend & DJ, an a cappela doo-wop group bringing back hits from the 50’s and 60’s with a twist of fun. Then at 10:45 pm join Mojeaux, one of New Orleans’ diverse and energetic party experience consisting of repertoire of R&B, Motown, Oldies, Top 40, Rock, Hip Hop, Funk and disco hits.
Over on the North Stage, the music gets kicked off with Big Jim Brown and the Speed Kings, a band with a raw, gritty sound from which American rock-n-roll was born. Then at 8:50 pm join Dew Pendleton & UR Friends, an energetic band with a unique sound that is crafted by the honesty of country, the soul of gospel, and the sheer fun of rock. At 10:50 pm, Timberhawk takes the stage. A five piece rock/indie/folk outfit, Timberhawk’s songs feature catchy melodies with beefy grooves and ballsy solos, and a vibe that goes back to the 1960s and punches it in the mouth.
The Pelican will descend from his perch at the stroke of midnight, and will be followed by the New Year’s Eve Fireworks display on Palafox Street.
In year’s past, more than 50,000 revelers rang in the new year at the Pelican Drop, and Southern Living Magazine included the event in their December 2010 issue as one of the must see events of the year.
Here are some valuable tips if you are thinking about heading out to the Pelican Drop.
• Street closures will begin the morning of December 31st, and will continue throughout the night. Avoid downtown streets if possible.
• Arrive early for the best view of the Pelican. Some of the best spots fill up by early evening.
• Local bars and restaurants will be open for food and beverages. No coolers will be allowed.
• Be ready for large crowds. Over 25,000 people are expected to be on Palafox Street when the Pelican drops.
• No animals will be allowed unless they are certified service animals.
• Check the weather and dress appropriately. With such large crowds it may be difficult to leave your spot and return if you need to get a sweater from your car.
For more information, visit www.downtownpensacola.com or contact 850-434-5371.
After Santa Delivers His Goodies, It’s Time To Party Mardi Gras Style
By: Kelly Woodard
Pensacolians who do it right never have to worry about post- Christmas let down. That’s because the day that to most of the world is the twelfth and final day of Christmas is recognized here as Twelfth Night, the first day of the Carnival season. Quite literally, Carnival begins at the moment when Christmas ends.
This annual, event happens the first week of January, and the beads will be flying once again this year with the 3rd Annual Wind Creek Pensacola 12th Night Mardi Gras Kick-off Celebration next Saturday, January 4th, 2014 in historic downtown Pensacola. Festivities begin at 5 pm as floats line up down Palafox Street ready to jumpstart the Mardi Gras season. At 6 pm, the parade will begin.
Join in on the fun and celebrate the 2014 Mardi Gras Season along with all the local Krewes; their King and Queens for the upcoming season, King Cake, and the town crier.
Danny Zimmern, President of Pensacola Mardi Gras Inc., said of the event, “We formed Pensacola Mardi Gras Inc. to showcase the downtown Pensacola area. We want to emphasize how great Pensacola is, and how much entertainment there is to offer. This is one of the events that we want people to be able to look forward to each Mardi Gras season.”
Recently awarded the honor of being included in the Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society, Pensacola’s Mardi Gras celebrations are free, family friendly events that are not to be missed.
For more information regarding the 12th Night Mardi Gras Kick-off Celebration or any of the areas other Mardi Gras events, visit www.pensacolamardigras.com or call 850-436-7638.