Happy New Year 2014

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

Happy New Year, Everybody. I have to admit that 2013 was a pretty good one for me. This blog has done well, of course, but more importantly than that, my family was basically healthy and safe. I’d say it was a year with a few good things mixed in with a lot less bad than we’ve had in the last few years, so I’ll take it. I’ll hope for at least the same mix this year.

For me, the New Year’s Eve celebrations downtown were sort of a tale to two celebrations. Market Square and the surrounding areas were filled with revelers and general craziness which started early. I walked though the Square about 8:00 PM and the buzz was growing pretty loud. Lots of shouting and ice skating and loud music filtering all around. To my eyes, it appeared to be an out of town crowd in to celebrate for the night.

Private and Semi-Private Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebrations 2014

Private and Semi-Private Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebrations 2014

I had a great time in homes scattered around downtown, which is how, I suspect, many downtown residents chose to enjoy the night: at private and semi-private parties in different people’s homes. I enjoy both – mixing it up on the square with thousands of people is pretty exciting. It’s a little crazy and a little crazy can be fun. Still, on a cold night, there’s something appealing about being warm with friends and having good food and drink while you wait for midnight.

We ended the night, as you can see from the photographs, in the home of good friends who also have a very awesome view of the square. I suspect it might be a bit like having box seats at a stadium for a football game, though I’ll likely never know if that is an apt comparison since that is way beyond my pay grade. The luxury of enjoying the event while partaking of the amenities mentioned above – as well as very nice things like a private bathroom instead of a port-a-potty was well appreciated by all.

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

By the time midnight approached the crowd had swelled to nearly fill the square with the exception of the ice-skating rink – which was pretty packed itself when I checked early in the evening. We noted the embarrassment of the backwards countdown display and wondered if the ball would fall on time this year since it was late last year. Turns out we needn’t have worried: It started to drop a full two minutes before midnight. Our group was screaming, Nooooooooo!” but it dropped anyway, arriving at its stopping point a bit early. It must be a pretty hard feat to manage.

Unlike the lighting of the Christmas tree which, as I noted in an earlier post, was followed by an awkward silence, this time fireworks exploded and, in what may be the coolest touch of the night, a Chinese lantern floated, flaming, into the night sky above the city. I took a photograph, but it looked like a dot in a sea of darkness. Extra points to whomever thought of that one.

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

I do have to be honest and note that all was not well. The crowd trended young and rough looking. There were lots of sagging pants, bared chests, yelling and confrontational behavior. I heard there was a fight on Market Square. A group of young people flooded into the lobby of the Arnstein, which is locked, meaning they must have followed someone inside. When they were asked to leave, they questioned the authority of the person talking to them, but left after the person said he was a resident.

On our way home, Urban Woman and I witnessed a confrontation that appeared to be headed for a fight with lots of angry yelling and a guy throwing his jacket onto the street as he appeared to be ready to fight a large group. He didn’t have a shirt. There were no police to be found which seems very strange to me. Surely there were plenty on the Square during the event, but by 12:45, just a block away, I couldn’t see one anywhere.

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

Downtown Knoxville New Year Celebration 2014

For next year, I would strongly suggest more police presence well past midnight. There really should not be a spot that close to the center of the action where a policeman could not be found. It was a very strange feeling, for me. I walk all around downtown and much further afield than I’m talking about, here. I sometimes can be found on foot well after midnight and I’m never afraid. We need to make sure that is the case every night of the year and some nights appear to require a bit more work to keep it that way.

Still, as far as I know, everyone got home safely and a lot of people had a tremendous night. I hope each of you had a good celebration with as much excitement as you desired. It’s a new year, now, and I hope it is a great one for each and every one of you.

Comments

  1. People are drunk, unruly and obnoxious on New Years. I chose to stay at home and watch the ball drop in Times Sq. The thought of traveling with drunk drivers around makes me nervous as well. I heard the crowd downtown was at 4,000 people which is bigger than last year. Thats a positive thing for businesses and such. Hope everyone had a good holiday!

  2. Chyna Brackeen says:

    After almost stepping in a huge trail of vomit along Wall Ave (before midnight, no less) and then witnessing a near-fight on Market Square during the ball drop, followed by an actual fight (in which one guy had blood seriously gushing out of his face and refused my help, instead asking where the closest bar was) and THEN seeing a guy being body slammed to the ground and arrested by at least five cops at last year’s NYE celebration downtown, I decided to avoid at all costs this year. The bonus was that our deck had an amazing view of the fireworks! I think we will continue to host NYE events at our place in the future, as it sounds like we made the right decision!

  3. I’m wondering if this is the reason they stopped Sundown in the City? I’ve been caught in the middle of several ‘angry mob’ situations downtown, and find it interesting that you felt like some of the people came from out of town. It always felt the same way to me.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Hey KD, Sundown was stopped for a variety of reasons one of which was tons of unsupervised teenagers descending on downtown. I think some people felt the crowd had gotten rougher, more prone to fight than to shop in any of the stores, and more drunk than maybe it had been earlier. The crowds had also gotten much larger and control would have been hard to exert if there were some emergency. All of which I would say is similar to the feel I had on the Square Tuesday night.

      That said, I’m surprised to hear you say you’ve “been caught in the middle of several ‘angry mob’ situations downtown.” I’ve lived down here for four years and constantly walk the streets, came down here for many years and often before that, and I don’t recall ever being in a situation I would describe that way. I’d love to hear where, when and what the circumstances were.

      As for my feeling that they came from out of town, I should clarify a bit. Since I am so constantly down here, I know the faces – and many names – of the people who are usually here. I see the workers, the homeless people and, of course, the residents repeatedly. Events naturally draw from outside downtown and I should have probably made it clear that I meant outside of downtown. Mostly it was a much rougher looking group of people than I see down here and I could see getting in the middle of an angry situation with them, but that crowd is so rare down here, which is why I’m surprised that you could have found yourself in several similar situations in the center city.

      It most definitely does not always feel that way to me. It’s very, very rare.

  4. Sorry to hear that things were a bit rough in downtown K’ville. My wife and I changed our plans to stay in town for NYE and drove to Charlotte instead to visit with friends. CLT has a massive show of force in Uptown every time there is a large celebration like this. This decision seems quite wise after gunfire erupted a couple years ago. The police in K’ville should be visible everywhere during such celebrations. If they are ubiquitous and in force, those looking for trouble, drunk or otherwise, will think twice about trouble making. Law abiding residents of downtown and visitors deserve nothing less. It has definitely worked in Charlotte where it was common to see 10 police standing on a single street corner near the Epicentre. Just my two-cents worth.

    • This is all very true. Ive been to uptown Charlotte’s NYE celebration before and there were, indeed, cops literally everywhere. The people were all behaved and no foolishness anywhere from what I saw.

  5. Lately, it has seemed like anything advertised as a free event has drawn a large, rough-around-the-edges crowd. Maybe downtown has officially caught on when that element shows up? I don’t know, but I don’t like it. First Night seemed to attract less of that crowd … even though the Market Square portion was free. The bulk of the advertising focused on the price of the ticketed event(s) and the fact that it was “family friendly” … maybe those things helped with the makeup of the crowd.

    I also noticed (from my perch above Mast General Store) that the cops on Gay Street and at Wall Ave left by about 12:10, if not before. Basically, the fireworks ended and the road reopened, and the police left. There were still hundreds of people streaming out of the Square and of course the bars were packed. It seems like the police should have been out in force and stayed out in force for quite some time after midnight.

  6. There were some rough (pushy, obnoxious) people at Boomsday as well.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      You know, now that you mention Boomsday, it was a similar crowd. We stay in our house until time for the fireworks and then walk out into a parking garage to watch, so we really don’t get out and about much, but you are right. That may be one of the events KD to which KD referred.

  7. So glad you’ve brightened our 2013 with great reports of downtown! Best wishes to you and your lovely wife for a happy, healthy new year!

  8. We ducked down the alley to get home to avoid the square and didn’t really have any problems, but we’ve had issues heading home after New Year’s in the past. It seems like it is just rowdier crowd than usual, including football game nights. But I have a friend who came downtown with her very young family for the night and they didn’t have any problems getting to the fireworks or back to their hotel. Their kids enjoyed swimming in the indoor pool at the Hampton Inn and then walking to the fireworks show and back and they did not feel scared or threatened. So maybe it is just isolated incidents, but if the police do indeed peel out right after opening up the traffic than some additional crowd control is needed.

  9. This is why I skipped all this and went to bed early. I live downtown and was woken repeatedly by the noise and fireworks, but this is to be expected. I did have a great early morning, rising with the sun and walking the old neighborhood and seeing the debris of the previous night. I did find some neat stuff to put together a small makeshift alter on the Market Square stage to welcome in the new year.

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