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NEW YEAR’S EVENTS: ‘Countdown’ highlights local celebrations

MANATEE -- Among the special events scheduled today to ring in the new year:

n Countdown Downtown, a new event on Bradenton’s Old Main Street, starts at 7 p.m. Live music is planned on two stages with local band Shineola performing from 8 p.m. until a lighted ball descends from a crane behind the stage during a countdown to midnight.

From 7 to 9 p.m., there will be a bounce house and face painting for children.

There also will be vendors and special drink sales.

The event doubles as a charity drive to collect coats, blankets and dog “outerwear” for the less fortunate of Manatee County. Bring donations to the event and drop them off at Lucky Dogs restaurant, 1207 Third Ave. W., ArtCenter Manatee, 209 Ninth St. W.; Westminster Courtyard, 222 Old Main St.; Bradenton Fire Department Station 1 (Gene Gallo Fire Station), 1010 Ninth Ave. W.; Om Gaia, 312 Old Main St.; or First Presbyterian Church, 1402 Manatee Ave. W.

The free event concludes at 1 a.m. Information: 932-9400.

n Ace’s, 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton, hosts a New Year’s Eve celebration with The Tony Tyler Band. Admission includes table-seating dinner, show, midnight champagne toast, party favors and breakfast buffet. 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Admission: $40/$50 day of event. Information: 795-3886 or

n BeachHouse’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza at 200 Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach, starts at 9 p.m. and features music, dancing, buffet and fireworks at midnight (weather permitting). Reservations are required. Cost: $99.99. Information: 779-2222.

n Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub & Grill, 6218 Cortez Road, presents the Jack Tamburin Champagne Toast, with Jack Tamburin performing 9-11:59 p.m. Champagne toast and party favors at midnight. Cover: Free. Information: 794-2489.

n The Distillery, 108 44th Ave. E., Bradenton, presents Full Fledged Unit New Year’s Eve Party 10-11:59 p.m. and a free midnight champagne toast. Cover: Free Information: 739-7845

n Mattison’s Riverside, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton, has events upstairs and downstairs.

Downstairs, there will be two seating times on the outdoor waterfront terrace with live music by Shaman from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. The first seating is at 6 p.m. and offers a holiday buffet menu for $24.95 per person. The second seating is at 9 p.m. and offers a grand buffet menu for $49.95. At midnight, mini cheeseburgers are served. Party favors are included.

Downstairs, main dining room: Full menu and New Year’s Eve specials. There is a complimentary champagne toast at midnight in the entire restaurant.

Upstairs, there will be a New Year’s Eve Black Tie Party from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. with a five-course dinner with wine, champagne and open bar. Live music by The Arch, dancing, party favors, large-screen TV to watch the ball drop, and more. Tickets are $100 per person (plus tax and tip). Tickets can be purchased by calling 748-8087 or visiting

n Tenor Joe Spinella from the Sarasota Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York will perform at the New Year’s Eve Celebration at Ortygia Restaurant, 1418 13th St. W., Bradenton. Celebration will include a menu created by Chef Gaetano Cannata. Reservations highly recommended. There will be two seatings: 6-8:30 p.m. and 9-11:30 p.m. Information: 741-8646.

n New Year’s Eve at the Polo Grill and Bar: 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch, features a house-made amuse bouche, choice of starters, entrées, desserts, and a complimentary glass of champagne. Bar and lounge features music, dancing, and the ball drop showing on 90-inch projection screen. Performance by Jonathan Cortez from 9 p.m.-1am. Party hats, noisemakers and confetti provided. Cost: $70. Information: 782-0899, ext. 2.

On New Year’s Day, Clancy’s Irish Pub has its annual Shamrock Shiver plunge into the Gulf of Mexico to help disadvantaged children of Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The event is set for noon Jan. 1 on Bradenton Beach at Gulf Drive/12th Street. All of the proceeds will benefit children through Caring for Children Charities, a 501(c)3 organization. A Post-Plunge Party will follow at Clancy’s, 6218 Cortez Road, Bradenton, with door prizes and the Jack Tamburin Band entertaining.

To plunge for pledges or donate to the cause, call Clancy’s at 794-2489.