Motor Booty Affair delights the crowd Friday night at Auburn’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Festival Plaza. Andree Kehn

 

Revelers enjoy Motor Booty Affair on Friday night at Auburn’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Festival Plaza. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The night was chilly and a cold drizzle had started to fall but nobody at Festival Plaza seemed to notice. 

Vernon Cox and his wife, Bobbie, were huddled up near the stage taking a selfie to commemorate Auburn’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Vernon and Bobbie Cox take a selfie Friday at the Auburn City New Year’s Eve celebration. The couple recently moved to the area from Ohio to be closer to family. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“I think it’s going to be a great night,” Vernon said. “Anything Lewiston-Auburn puts together, we love to go to. We always have fun.” 

The couple moved to Maine in May so they were eager to try out their first New Year’s Eve bash in the area. They made a good choice: According to some, Auburn’s celebration, held right on Main Street, may be the biggest and best New Year’s Eve bash in all of Maine. 

“We’ve got live music, we’ve got food trucks and we have a beer tent,” said local comedian and event emcee Mark Turcotte. “We’ve got fireworks and we’ve got WIGY here. These are all the ingredients for a great time.” 

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Heath Crocker, recreation specialist with the city, was manning a booth, handing out bracelets for the beer tents as well as all the New Year’s Eve staples, like crazy hats, beads and noisemakers. 

“I’m working the front lines,” he said. “So far so good.” 

Like Father, Like Son, consisting of Justin Carver, right, and his son Uriah, opened the New Years Eve celebration at Festival Plaza in Auburn with a set of cover songs. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

The duo Like Father, Like Son launched the festivities by taking the stage, set up in the middle of Main Street, early in the evening. 

“These guys are awesome,” was Vernon Cox’s assessment. 

The father-son act was followed by cover bands Motor Booty Affair and Hello Norman, with fireworks slated for 10 p.m. 

All things considered, drizzle aside, it was everything a person could want in a New Year’s Eve gathering. 

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Many if not most such celebrations across the state were canceled or moved online due to fears of COVID-19. 

Leanna Foley dances Friday with her daughter, Mackenzie, 7, at the Auburn New Year’s Eve celebration at Festival Plaza. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque, though, has been adamant from the start: People need a sense of normality going into the new year. Canceling the city’s signature celebration would have been a lousy way to head into 2022. 

“Of course New Year’s Eve is symbolic in many ways,” Levesque said. “A fresh start, new beginnings, out with the old, in with the new; that’s very familiar to all of us. But New Year’s Auburn is different, it’s a celebration of our city. Everything we’ve gone through, what we’ve overcome, and it serves as a reminder that we all need to embrace possibility and search out opportunity and once found we should make it happen. I know that’s what it means to me and I hope the people of Auburn and Maine feel the same way.” 

Laurel Munsell Libby of Auburn tended to agree.

“Great food and music and a sense of optimism in the air!” she said of the Friday night party.

It’s the third year of the event in Auburn. After a successful inaugural event in 2018, it continued in 2019. Last year’s event, which would have been the third annual, was canceled because of the pandemic. 

Motor Booty Affair delights the crowd Friday night at Auburn’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Festival Plaza. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Partiers arrive Friday night for Auburn’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Festival Plaza. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal


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