VALDOSTA -- Valdosta will have the opportunity to ring in the New Year black-tie style Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 at the Mainstreet and the Central Valdosta Development Authority's first New Year's Gala at the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center/Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1 Meeting Place.

Tickets for the gala were $50 each, and sales for the tickets ended Monday per request of Covington's Dining and Catering, which needs time to prepare for catering.

Ticket sales will benefit the Mainstreet program, which will pay for professional color brochures complete with a downtown Valdosta parking, walking tour, business and restaurant directory, said James Horton, Mainstreet director. Mainstreet also hopes to invest in a Web site for downtown Valdosta.

"It's not going to be cheap to get all of this," said Horton, who also said he was unsure of the exact total cost of the brochures and Web site. "I know it's going to cost several thousand dollars."

In sponsoring the gala, Mainstreet hopes to make it an annual event. Horton said he'd like to see one big fund-raising event per year to get everyone together and promote downtown Valdosta.

Other, smaller fund-raisers -- like Winterfest and the Brown Bag lunches and concerts -- complement the New Year's Gala in its fund-raising efforts, Horton said.

Black tie for the event is optional, Horton said.

"We'd like to see Valdosta really dress up for this, but they don't have to," Horton said. "We sure would like them to look like a metropolitan city since we're having a metropolitan party."

Children ages 8 to 16 can participate in a milder version of the fun with their own separate party at the Convention Center, complete with a DJ, pizza party and adult supervision at the cost of $25 per child.

The New Year's Gala starts at 7 p.m., with an evening-long performance by Strawberry Nixon. Covington's will serve food including a carving station with breads, mustard, mayonnaise and horseradish, sauteed potato cakes, stuffed mushrooms, grilled chicken strips with sesame dressing, hot spinach artichoke dip and others until 10 p.m.

Cash bars will be set up all evening, and a big screen TV will be on hand so guests can watch events as they happen across the nation, Horton said. Party favors will be available for guests, and party-goers will call in the New Year with a champagne toast at midnight. Immediately following the toast, Covington's will serve breakfast.

"This will be one of the most fun and largest New Year's parties available in Valdosta," Horton said. "It will be a very classy event in a very classy place."

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