Several thousand people packed North Broadway under Skypoint Tuesday to welcome in 2014 in Billings’ first Rockin’ The Rims Downtown New Year’s Eve bash.
DJ Exodus cranked up the tunes, mashing old Chicago songs and ’70s funk with current songs like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” Three generations of revelers mixed it up with middle-aged men in suits doing the bump and teenagers performing hip-hop. The Wrecking Clowns Dance Crew had a circle of fans around them while they spun off each other and off the wet pavement.
Mayor Tom Hanel and his wife, Robin, joined the crowd after the John Mueller Winter Dance Party show finished up at 10 p.m. at the Alberta Bair Theater.
“This is what Billings is all about — friendly people who are excited about big events like this one,” Hanel said.
The Hanels booked a room at the Northern Hotel so they could stroll down North Broadway to their room when the party ended.
“We thought it was our night to be downtown, enjoying what it has to offer,” Hanel said.
The event was a collaboration between the Downtown Billings Alliance and MACK Productions. Noise & Color CEO Wayne Wilcox helped arrange the entertainment. As he stood at the entrance gate putting wristbands on those people 21 and older, Wilcox was beaming about the turnout.
“It’s going bananas,” Wilcox said. “There are tons of people and everybody is having fun.”
Earlier in the evening, Wilcox estimated the crowd size at 2,000, but it doubled before the ball exploded at midnight under Skypoint, amid pyrotechnics and lots of shouting and kissing.
Antonio Franco and Morgan Wevley said they were impressed with the diversity of the crowd.
“It’s fun and it brings people together in Billings,” Wevley said.
Marissa Jones, a Rocky Mountain College student from Eureka, stood off to the side of the crowd with three college friends a little leery of jumping into the packed dance area.
“This is really cool, seeing so many people downtown,” Jones said.