May Sue Bunting and her husband have been coming from Kissimmee to visit the Bradenton area for about 17 years, she said, but never have they spent New Year’s Eve on Old Main Street.
But on Saturday night, Bunting smiled as her husband took a picture of the ball perched above the stage on Old Main Street that would drop at midnight.
“This whole area is very special for us. It’s a romantic thread, Anna Maria and Bradenton,” Bunting said. “It’s a very special part of Florida for my husband and me.”
One of their favorite spots that keeps them coming back: O’Bricks, she said.
“We’ve been coming to O’Bricks for years, plus we love your Main Street,” she added. “And we’re getting to see this on New Year’s Eve for the first time.”
Hundreds gathered Saturday on Old Main Street in Bradenton as soon as the sun set for the final time on 2016 in hopeful anticipation of a new year.
The restaurants along Old Main Street were filled with people enjoying their final meals of the year. Others enjoyed food from one of the many street vendors. Of course there were drinks to be had, whether inside one of the bars or at one of the makeshift bars set up outside serving up some of Florida’s favorite adult beverages.
Dram, a local band from Bradenton, had party-goers entertained for the first four hours of the block party, before headliner Have Gun, Will Travel took the stage at 10 p.m. to help welcome 2017.
Preteen sisters Versailles and Ava Bechler were dancing up a storm, playing at the Extreme Mobile Party Station, as their father and grandparents watched.
“We’re here over half an hour,” father Corey Bechler said. “Since there isn’t a lot of kids, they haven’t kicked them out.”
The girls and their father were visiting his parents at their seasonal home in Bradenton from their home in Michigan.
And they certainly did like to sing in dance, said the smiling, proud father.
Grandmother Beth Bechler stood with her New Year’s Eve hat, smiling big as she watched them dance.
“These kids have been in the pool all day, and they are still going,” she said.
She and her husband had never come to the New Year’s Eve party on Old Main Street, but they were pleased with what they found.
“This is awesome,” she said. “We’d just decided to come check it out.”