Red Stick Revelry kicks off New Years Eve in BR

Downtown BR looks to become a New Year’s Eve destination with inaugural Red Stick Revelry

Downtown Baton Rouge will ring in 2014 with the first Red Stick Revelry, a downtown celebration that welcomes the new year with fireworks and the dropping of a 9-foot red stick made of LED lights.

“We noticed last year that downtown really was a New Year’s Eve destination for a lot of people,” event organizer Rannah Gray said. “It was time that Baton Rouge had something.”

At midnight, a 9-foot lighted stick will be dropped from the beacon in downtown’s North Boulevard Town Square — much like New York City’s famed crystal ball that is viewed by millions on TV every year.

The festivities will start much earlier, with family friendly events beginning at 11 a.m.

Baton Rouge band Phat Hat, which recorded the official Red Stick Revelry theme song, will take the Galvez Plaza stage to kick off the nighttime revelry at 9 p.m.

Vendors will sell food and alcoholic beverages to revelers, including the Istrouma Buzz, a fruity gin and champagne cocktail that was crowned the official drink of the event. Attendees are not allowed to bring their own drinks. The setup will be similar to downtown’s regular Live After Five concert event series.

Organizers aren’t saying how many people they expect to show up, but downtown businesses and hotels have planned special events and rates in anticipation of a large crowd.

Mayor-President Kip Holden announced in August the city’s plans to create an annual downtown New Year’s Eve celebration, funded entirely by donors.

Gray said Holden stressed to organizers that the Red Stick Revelry should “have strong, lasting appeal to it.”

“We looked at what lots of cities do,” Gray said. “There’s a lot of components to an event like this that’s just perfect for what’s going on downtown.”

Gray said the event will have a family oriented component during the day with activities for kids, and the Town Square Beacon will play family friendly movies beginning with the “Wizard of Oz” at 1:30 p.m.

“It’s a special time of the year, and I think on New Year’s everyone would like to do something meaningful and reflective,” Gray said. “This way they can do the midnight experience or something during the day with the whole family.”

Gray said the event is expected to cost about $50,000 plus the initial $40,000 cost of the red stick sculpture.

T-shirts and commemorative pendants will be sold at the event to help raise funds for future years. They also can be purchased online.

“We’re trying to develop it into a sustainable event to have every year,” Gray said.