Panama City Beach – While the commonality between a giant Waterford Crystal and an 800-pound beach ball is not obvious, the season offers a clue. On Thursday, December 31, New Year’s 2010 will be ushered in by traditional countdown “drops” across the nation. Just as New York City has its Times Square Crystal Ball, Panama City Beach in Northwest Florida will embrace its seaside roots with the second annual Panama City Beach Beach Ball Drop presented by Southwest Airlines. In collaboration with Southwest Airlines and hosted by Pier Park, Panama City Beach’s Beach Ball Drop event represents what the destination is all about — white sand beaches, family togetherness and just plain fun.
“Last year’s inaugural Beach Ball Drop attracted 12,000 visitors, and we’re expecting that number to grow this year,” said Dan Rowe, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The destination is in a celebratory mood in anticipation of the New Year as it will bring exciting new developments our way. This includes the May opening of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and a long-lasting partnership with Southwest Airlines.”
Southwest Airlines, the first airline to announce service to the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, rings in the new year with Panama City Beach in serving as the presenting sponsor for the annual event. The 800-pound glowing beach ball begins the more than 100-foot descent just before midnight on December 31.
Pier Park festivities, free and open to the public, begin at 5:30 p.m. with family-friendly entertainment including bounce houses, party favors, street performers, stilt walkers and face painters. The family portion of the event culminates at 8:30 p.m. with fireworks and a family ball drop, consisting of 7,000 inflatable beach balls.
The countdown celebration takes place from 9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. when streets will be closed to traffic. In addition to the highly-anticipated beach ball drop, guests will enjoy live musical performances, prize giveaways including six pairs of round trip airfare compliments of Southwest Airlines and a majestic midnight fireworks display over the Gulf of Mexico.
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