story and photos by Joel Rafkin
Several venues in Fort Smith hosted New Year’s Eve events for those wanting to get out and bid farewell to 2010 and usher in 2011.
The annual Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Party at the Fort Smith Convention Center featured live dance music by the Nearly Famous Dance Band. The free event which began at 8:30 p.m. and ended at midnight, provided party favors and refreshments to attendees. By 11 p.m., the crowd had dwindled to about 50 people — much less than was there earlier in the evening, said several people in attendance.
The crowd at Creekmore Park grew in numbers as midnight approached. KISR 93.7 FM broadcast live from the park and the MS Soundworks mobile DJ truck pumped out the tunes while people waited for the ball to be lowered from atop a crane at midnight.
The crowd counted down in unison from "10" and the ball was lowered to ground level. A brief but nonetheless impressive fireworks display illuminated the southwestern night sky after the ball drop. Children gathered around the ball and marveled at the lights and it’s wireframe construction. Many people posed for pictures with the ball as a backdrop. By 12:30 a.m. the crowd had dispersed.
The Fort Smith bar scene was somewhat surprising.
Ron Le, a doorman at Webby D’s on Garrison Avenue, said the crowd was larger than on a typical Friday night but most people left right after midnight. He attributed this mass exodus to people beginning their celebration earlier in the evening than on a regular Friday night.
By 12:45 a.m. the nightlife in downtown Fort Smith was nearly nonexistent. Parking spaces were as easy to find as an empty seat in a bar.