If you plan to celebrate the end of 2014 and the start of 2015, here are a few suggestions.
For more, refer to Take Five’s print and online calendar at calendar.bellinghamherald.com.
Since 2012, Birch Bay has held a special event – the Ring of Fire & Hope, on New Year’s Eve. Birch Bay’s beach is ringed with fire when hundreds of people light flares at 7 p.m. Dec. 31, from Birch Bay State Park to Birch Bay Village. During the 30 minutes that the flares burn, it’s generally quiet as people reflect back and look forward.
The Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event, will distribute free flares at the Birch Bay Visitor’s Center, 7900 Birch Bay Drive, starting at 5 p.m., but bring your own flare if you have one, because the chamber will limit the number of flares for any household to two. Flares need to be “spikeless” (no nail at the end), and need to last 15 to 30 minutes. Flares are also usually available at marine and auto-parts stores.
On New Year’s Day, daring individuals are invited to participate in the Polar Bear Plunge at Birch Bay. Started in 1982 by Birch Bay residents on a dare, the annual ritual draws hundreds of participants from as far away as Germany, Tokyo, Chicago and British Columbia, as kids to seniors take a plunge in the bay’s chilly water.
It’s free, but registration is encouraged because people who do so receive an official “I Took The Plunge” certificate and hot beverages. There are five costume judging categories with prizes:
• Most Years Plunging
• Oldest Participant
• Best Individual Costume
• Best Group Costume
• Farthest Traveled Participant
Just gather on the waterfront by the Birch Bay Chamber Visitor Information Center, 7900 Birch Bay Drive; registration begins at 9 a.m.; costume judging is at 11:30 and the plunge is at noon.
This year, because of its success last year and perhaps because of the town’s proximity to British Columbia, Birch Bay Waterslides, the Parks and Recreation District 2 and the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce will host an international broom-hockey tournament at 1 p.m. New Year’s Day at the Waterslides, 4874 Birch Bay-Lynden Road. Each team will be made up of at least six players, who will compete in three 15-minute periods, with the winner taking home the honor (or honour) for their country. Spectators are welcome. To register, call 360-656-6416.
Lake Padden Dip
For those closer to Bellingham, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department hosts the annual free Padden Polar Dip on New Year’s Day at Lake Padden. Start off the New Year right with a brisk walk or run around Lake Padden at 11 a.m., followed by the dip at noon sharp. Walkers, runners and swimmers should show up at the Lake Padden bath house about 10:45 a.m.
There will be snacks, patio heaters and heated showers for everyone exiting the water. The lake is chilly, so it’s recommended that parents with children 10 or younger consult a physician before entering the water. Details: Lance Romo, 360-778-7000 or Lromo@cob.org.
“A Manhattan New Year’s Eve” in Lynden
Other events on New Year’s Eve include a “Party Hearty” event from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Jansen Art Center, 321 Front St., in Lynden, with music by Telefon, featuring pianist Bill MacDonough, singers Cheryl Hodge and Darla Bradshaw Lobb and guitarist Walt Burkett, plus hors d’oeuvres and a four-course gourmet dinner, and live streaming of the New York Times Square Ball Drop. (Yes, the event ends at 10 p.m.)
Cost: $80, with seating limited. Reservations: jansenartcenter.org, 360-354-3600.
Yogoman’s New Orleans Masquerade Ball
Yogoman, fronted by Bellingham’s Jordan Rain, celebrates its 10th anniversary with a New Orleans Masquerade Ball from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. New Year’s Eve at the Wild Buffalo, 208 W. Holly St.
From February through April (Mardi Gras through Jazzfest time) Rain will travel from Bellingham to New Orleans with his family and crew for a musical project. They’ve applied to play a few festivals in the Big Easy, but the real mission is for Yogoman to recruit New Orleans musicians for the band or to create a chapter of their own band there for future national touring as a southern home base. Yogoman is kicking off a crowd-funding campaign seeking support from their fans to help with housing, rehearsal and living costs for the crew’s three-month adventure.
On New Year’s Eve, Yogoman and his band will perform all four of their studio albums, featuring videos from the band’s history. Admission is $12 advance, $15 at the door. Details: wildbuffalo.net.
Blues and bluegrass in Conway
In the small burg of Conway in Skagit County, the Prozac Mtn Boys of Bellingham play bluegrass at Conway Muse, a one-time barn remodeled into a restaurant and music venue by Iceland native Elfa Gisla and her husband, Tom Richardson. The Mark DuFrense Blues Band plays at 9 p.m. in the upstairs Bard Room. Doors open at 7:30
The Muse offers a New Year’s dinner for $25, not included in the $25 door price. Details: conwaymuse.com, 360-445-3000.