New Orleans earns international recognition for New Years Eve celebration

Published: Dec. 29, 2013 at 7:06 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2014 at 3:42 AM CST
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New Orleans, La.- 100,000 visitors are expected to fill the hotels and restaurants in the Greater New Orleans area this week.

"We looked at hotel occupancy over a week ago and it was in the 92 to 95 percent range, and I know those numbers have climbed," said Kelly Schulz of the New Orleans Conventions and Visitors Bureau.

International recognition for New Years New Orleans style draws people to the Crescent City Countdown.

"They're from all over the world. They're coming to New Orleans to celebrate the new year, and we're really excited and grateful," said Debbie Bresler, coordinator for the Crescent City Countdown Club.

"New Years Eve is huge this year. In fact, Huffington Post named New Orleans one of the best places in the world to celebrate New Years Eve, and we're on the list with places like Sydney, Australia, Las Vegas and New York. We made that list which is a great honor," said Schulz.

It's a homegrown celebration that gets bigger each year.

"It's really a community effort. In a lot of other cities, it's municipal funds that pay for this. The Countdown Club and New Orleans Tourism and Marketing, we start raising money all over every year," said Bresler.

"It's a whole lot of work for just ten seconds, but we love it," said Erskine Terry, the engineer for the fleur de lis drop.

The fundraising builds a night for New Orleanians to be proud of and for tourists to flock to.

"We're so excited New Years Eve has become an event in itself. It is the reasons to come. It is a destination to celebrate New Years Eve New Orleans style, and of course, only New Orleans can celebrate that way," said Bresler.

Many of the visitors will be from Alabama and Oklahoma. Fans have been arriving all week in preparation for the Sugar bowl on January 2nd.

"With Alabama and Oklahoma, really strong loyal fan bases that are going to travel well, they're not too far from New Orleans, so people are already making their way into the city for that," said Schulz.

As a small thank you to traveling fans, the Crimson Tide and Sooners will get a special nod in the New Years Eve fireworks kickoff.

"We play the fight songs of the teams that are playing in the Sugar Bowl, then we also end with Mardi Gras songs. So we plant that seed: you've celebrated New Years New Orleans style, now come back to the city for Mardi Gras," said Bresler.