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Locals ring in new year at area venues
Ronnie Smith Rachel Smith Lacey Kicklighter
Ronnie Smith, Rachel Smith, Lacey Kicklighter enjoy New Year's Eve at Vann's Restaurant in Hinesville, as some residents stayed local for this year's celebration. - photo by By Frenchi Jones

The countdown began.

From the gates of Fort Stewart to the stretch of Hwy. 196 leading out of town, shouts of “10 … 9 … 8 …7 … 6 … 5 ... 4 … 3 … 2 … 1, Happy New Year!” could be heard all over Hinesville as people rang in the New Year close to home by supporting local businesses and entertainment venues.

Restaurant owner Van Wheeler opened the doors to his bar and grill for New Year’s Eve. For $85 per couple, locals who wanted to ring in the New Year Vann’s-style came out to hear top 40 hits and the sounds of the band “Dr. Don & Scott.”

Wheeler and his wife, Britt Nickels, said they wanted to wish everyone in the community a happy New Year.

Vann’s door price bought patrons a bottle of champagne, party favors and, as advertised, “lots of prizes.” 

A few blocks east, through Fort Stewart’s main gate, there were five parties going on – one in every room of the post’s non-commissioned officers’ club, Club Stewart.

 Owner of Phatt Katz Productions, Inc., DJ Dean, gave guests a variety of listening options, including Latin, R&B, hip-hop, and “oldies but goodies.”  While some partiers did the “Electric Slide” or the “Cupid Shuffle,” others were “Stepping in the Name of Love” or dancing the “Cumbia.”

“I am trying to do a lot of things in the community,” Dean said. “We have a lot of things coming up for people to enjoy.”

Each guest received a party hat, favors and a miniature bottle of champagne for a $25 entry fee.

Outside the South gate and down Hwy. 196, the sounds of Chuck Berry’s “Go, Johnny, Go … Go …” pulsated from inside the local V.F.W. chapter’s hall. The veterans association provided the band “Six Guns South” for its members’ $25 per couple cover charge.

Anet Owens and her husband, Roy Owens, both veterans club life members, said they wouldn’t spend New Year’s Eve anywhere else.

“We try to support the VFW and American Legion as much as we can,” Anet Owens said. “I think it’s going to be a better year for veterans."

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