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Salisbury rings in the new year at F&M Trolley Barn

SALISBURY – The annual New Year’s Eve celebration at the Bell Tower has been a tradition for decades. The event had to be moved indoors this year while the park at the Bell Tower is under construction.

But the show must go on, and despite the move, the event managed to attract some new people to the city’s annual celebration.

A couple of event-goers, Darren Custer and Kathy Rhodes, live in Salisbury but never wanted to come to the outdoor celebration.

“It’s a way to be with people and bring in the new year,” Custer said.

Local band Livehouse returned to the celebration, and was jamming. Early in the band’s set, they threw a bit of “Auld Lang Syne” into Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy.”

“We knew pretty early on that we were not going to be able to be at the Bell Tower this year, so we had ample time to have a location,” Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department Event Coordinator Vivian Koontz said. “F&M has been amazing providing us with this space tonight so that we can keep this tradition going.”

Koontz said planning the event takes a couple of months and has attracted about 1,000 to 1,500 people to the Bell Tower for the past few years,. The event is at least 50 years old.

The event had free hot chocolate, coffee and a first for the event: beer and wine on sale by Downton Salisbury Inc.

DSI Marketing and Events Coordinator Latoya Price said the alcohol sales fundraised for the nonprofit.

“We just asked if we can partner this way and went from there,” Price said.

The Salisbury Fire Department brought their bell so it could be rung at midnight. Before the Bell Tower was renovated the department’s bell was brought to the New Year’s celebration there.

Capt. Stephen Carter said some firefighters were able to enjoy Tuesday night’s event even though they had to work the holiday.

“It’s just the chance to get out in the community and interact with everyone,” Carter said.

Carter said he prefers the outdoor event because he likes the Bell Tower.

“It’s monumental for the town,” Carter said.

There was a countdown as the event closed in on midnight, with a live feed of the annual Ball Drop in Times Square to coincide with Salisbury’s own tradition of ringing in the new year.

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