SARASOTA - The New Year was certainly ushered in with style on the Suncoast. Organizers estimate about 30,000 people gathered for the pineapple drop in downtown Sarasota, and another 9,000-10,000 watched the ball drop in downtown Bradenton.
Both New Year Eve's celebrations were parties with a purpose -- to bring customers to downtown restaurants and bars, and to make them have such a good time they'll come back again.
ABC 7’s Bob Harrigan was on the stage in Sarasota and counted the crowd down into 2013.
There was a quick clean up in both downtown locations. By morning in both cities, all signs of the New Year's Eve bashes were gone.
And merchants who own businesses right in the heart of all the fun pronounce the parties a booming success. James Sullivan, owner of Patrick’s in Sarasota says his New Year’s Eve business was up 25% this year over last year, when the street party was canceled. "It keeps things downtown, and Ernie Ritz and his helpers did a really good job of putting this on and we supported it financially, and we're happy with the results."
"Everybody was busy on the street. Everybody that was open was busy, it was great," says Rick Willats, managing partner at O’Brick’s Irish Pub.
Business owners in both Sarasota and Bradenton say these big parties bring in folks from miles around, and gives them a chance to show off their establishment and create new customers for the new year.