On Dec. 11 under a bright blue sky, sunshine and the MoonPie on the RSA- Trustmark, Carol Hunter, president of Events Mobile, announced this year’s New Year’s Eve in Mobile will be “the best one yet.”
Bill Pfister, Austal vice president for external affair, confirmed the headliner for the event, which was leaked more than a week ago on the artist’s website.
“This might come as a surprise but the headliner will be Gretchen Wilson,” Pfister said.Country singer Wilson is best known for her 2004 hit “Redneck Woman.” Her debut album entered the country charts at No. 1 and the pop charts at No. 2.
Hunter said she hope Mobilians and people far and wide heed Wilson’s advice of her debut album’s name.
“Gretchen Wilson released ‘Here For The Party’ and we want everyone to be here in downtown Mobile for the party,” she said.
There was more good news at the Dec. 11 press conference. Events Mobile, which is tasked with coordinating the event for the city of Mobile, secured another sponsor, which would be solely donating for the fireworks.
On Dec. 3, City Councilman Fred Richardson took issue with Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s decision not to fully fund the fireworks for the event, which the city has done in the past.
Stimpson instead gave $7,500 toward the fireworks, which cost $18,500 total.
Richardson argued that it was the city’s responsibility to foot the bill for the fireworks.
“The city should be paying for the fireworks,” he said on Dec. 3. “We give $315,000 to the LPGA and I don’t know one person in District 1 that goes to it. The citizens don’t enjoy it, and it doesn’t fill up the hotels like the MoonPie.
“If the countdown starts on New Year’s Eve — 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 — and then nothing but a whimper … no fireworks, then we will be embarrassed.”
Although Richardson was upset on Dec. 3 about the fireworks, he was elated on Dec. 11 when it was announced Dean McCrary Auto Group joined the list of sponsors.
McCrary was at the press conference and said he wanted to help the event.
“I grew up in this town and love this town. I can’t imagine a New Year’s here without fireworks,” he said. “The city shouldn’t have to fund the fireworks. Businesses and corporations should contribute. I felt it was the perfect time to step in and help.
“This is going to be a great event and one of the best New Year’s Eves ever.”
Richardson, who created the idea of the MoonPie Drop, looked forward to a time when the event wasn’t broadcast by only a few station, but seen worldwide.
“Mobile’s New Year’s Eve celebration featuring the MoonPie Over Mobile has become a cultural phenomenon in the entire USA,” he said. Every year, more and more people are getting involved and thousands more revelers come out to enjoy the festivities. I look forward to this New Year’s Eve being the best that ever been in our city.
“I can’t wait for CNN to pick this up and for it to be seen all over the world.”
For now, Raycom Media will be showing a 35-minute live telecast of the MoonPie Drop on 20 stations.
Renaissance Riverview Plaza General Manger Kent Blackinton urged people to see the MoonPie Drop live instead of on TV.
We are going to make a great party even better this year, and we are looking to fill the streets of Mobile and the hotel rooms in the city,” he said. “Twenty Raycom television stations through the Central Time Zone can watch MoonPie Over Mobile live in a 35-minute telecast on Raycom stations, but we would rather have you being part of the excitement.”
The excitement kicks off at 5 p.m. with local group ISING performing on the Bienville Square stage. Starting at 6 p.m., children’s activities will begin at Bienville Square. The museum of Mobile, Exploreum and carnival Museum will also be open with children’s activities.
At 6:30 p.m. local act Worx will play at the Bienville Square Stage.
The New Year’s Eve parade, which will feature some of the best Mardi Gras floats and marching bands, will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Shortly after the parade starts, the giant edible MoonPie provided by Chattanooga Bakery will be served at 8 p.m. to people at the Riverview Plaza Hotel.
Following the opening ceremony at 8:30 p.m., the opening act, which is yet to be announced, will perform from 9 to 10:30 p.m.
Gretchen Wilson will take the stage at 11 p.m. and at 11:30 p.m. the light show begins.
At 11:59 p.m. the countdown starts as the MoonPie slides down the RSA-Trustmark building.
At midnight the laser and fireworks show will light up downtown Mobile.
The night ends at 12:30 a.m. when Wilson finishes her performance.