Portsmouth does the new year right

Sunday News Correspondent |
January 03. 2017 10:14AM

The city of Portsmouth was bustling Saturday, as people from near and far turned out to celebrate the new year. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Sunday News Correspondent)

The ice sculptures at Market Square always attract the curious during First Night. 

The ice sculpture at Market Square always attracts a number of people during First Night. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

PORTSMOUTH — People out for First Night in Portsmouth had some special memories from 2016, but were looking forward to ringing in the new year as city streets filled with crowds Saturday night.

Ed and Fran Mallon moved back to Portsmouth from New Castle in September, and were catching up with old friends and city residents Fred and Barbara Engelbach at the ice sculpture in Market Square. Between moving back to the Port City and having a new great-grandson born, the Mallons had a busy year.

When asked if they have any New Year’s resolutions, Fred Mallon said, “Yeah, to have ‘17 be better than ’16… Au revoir to ’16!”

“I think we agree to that,” Barbara Engelbach said as the group laughed merrily together.

Olivia Posey, 14, of Exton, Pa., and Anna Fraser, 15, or York, Pa., were in the area visiting relatives and said they made some good memories this year. Posey enjoyed night skiing for the first time. Fraser has fond memories from hanging out with her friends at Homecoming.

“We’re all still kind of childish, so we sat on the floor and we played Duck, duck, goose,” Fraser said. Both teens look forward to making memories with friends in the new year.

Restaurant and bar owners in Portsmouth were expecting a busy night. At Louie’s on Pleasant Street, co-owners James Woodhouse and R.J. Joyce said New Year’s Eve is a time when everyone lets their hair down and has some fun.

“This kind of marks the end of the holiday season so it is kind of a big release for everybody. It is a night where everyone is looking to party, have a good time. It’s festive,” Woodhouse said.

The special menu at Louie’s included veal loin, duck breast and halibut. Woodhouse said staff started talking about what Saturday’s menu should look like right after Halloween. It was finalized by Thanksgiving.

A number of people out and about downtown Saturday were wearing First Night buttons to support the non-profit Pro Portsmouth, which organizes activities for young and old. The buttons granted them access to concerts, stage shows and face painting. Fireworks at South Mill Pond, a street dance hosted by Portsmouth Community Radio and the ice sculptures were all free to the public.

Local hotels hosted a number of activities to welcome in 2017. At the Sheraton Harborside Hotel on Market Street, the 8th annual “Live Free or Die Laughing” comedy show returned with a two-show format. A wedding was also planned for the night.

General manager Tristan Harris said they are typically booked for the night Dec. 31.

“It’s a special way to ring in the New Year,” Harris said of staying downtown on the holiday.

Police in Portsmouth had extra patrols on until 1:30 a.m. to ensure everyone’s safety. They were paid for by federal grant money. The state Liquor Commission paid for a patrol at its store at the traffic circle.
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