Happy New Year!

OK, we’re a little early, but the new year is only days away. There are as many ways to usher it in as there are people. What’s best depends on your personality. If you’re the gregarious type, you’ll most likely want to celebrate with a crowd of people around you making lots of noise and sharing more toasts than you should. A more introspective person may want to sit at home with a loved one and watch the ball drop at Times Square on TV. But there’s a lot of room in between.

For those who want to find a quiet place to celebrate but don’t want to stay home, how about the rustic Richmond Corner Sauna, which is also a bed and breakfast, so you can go for the night. They are clothing optional, so you could usher in the new year by taking a sauna and then a “dip” in the snow to cool off, all in your birthday suit. (http://www.richmondsauna.com/) You might want to adopt a new Maine New Year’s Eve tradition by going to Eastport and taking part in its annual Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop, which happens at the Tides Institute and Museum of Art in Bank Square, the town’s new public space. (http://www.tidesinstitute.org/) Be aware: The maple leaf will be dropped at midnight Atlantic time, which is 11 p.m. Eastern time, and the sardine will be dropped at midnight Eastern time, so you can celebrate twice.

If you love winter sports you can go to Sugarloaf Resort in Carrabassett Valley and ski and snowboard your heart out, then enjoy their Widowmaker New Year’s Eve Party with drink specials and give-aways during the evening, then toast in the New Year while watching a fireworks display on the mountain. (http://www.sugarloaf.com/index.html)

And don’t forget New Year’s Day … there is more to do than watch the Rose Parade and spend the afternoon with NFL football games. For instance, Lost Valley in Auburn is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for all you skiing and snowboarding fans. (http://www.lostvalleyski.com/) Read on for more ideas on where and how to usher in the New Year Maine-style.

Eastland Park Hotel
157 High St.
For all you romantics this is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. Visit the Top of the East lounge on the roof, a small and intimate space with fantastic views of Portland and the bay. Last year five couples became engaged on New Year’s Eve there. No reservations are needed and their capacity is 70, so go early.

Hollywood Slots Hotel and Raceway
500 Main St.
If you have the gaming spirit this is the place for you! This year they will be giving away a Mercedes at midnight and hourly prizes during the evening, plus you’ll enjoy live music by Motor Booty. No admission charge. There are two dinner seatings, at 6 and 9 p.m., plus a full buffet is offered, and the midnight toast, of course. Call for details. Also in Bangor is Downtown Countdown, with free entertainment and a ball drop at 29 Main St. at the stroke of midnight.

The Lodge at Moosehead Lake
368 Lily Bay Road, PO Box 1167
If you want to get away to the mountains, the lodge is offering a three-night package that includes gourmet breakfasts in the morning, New Year’s Eve dinner for two and much more. They have just discounted their package, so take advantage of this deal.

The Oddfellow Theater
Route 117
For those of you who want to usher in the New Year laughing, then you can’t miss Dickie Hyper-Hynie’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. Two shows at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $15, so call and reserve yours now and laugh in the New Year.

Shawnee Peak
166 Mountain Road
For those of you who want to celebrate the new year, but don’t want to be out on New Year’s Eve, go to Shawnee Peak on Dec. 29 for a huge event welcoming in winter. There will be a “beating of the drums” ceremony, fireworks and a torchlight parade beginning at 7 p.m. Add to that a DJ, prizes and entertainment, plus $15 lift tickets from 4 to 9 p.m., and you have all the ingredients for a great celebration.

Lobster Dip at OOB
In front of the Brunswick Hotel/Oceanside Grille
West Grand Avenue,
Old Orchard Beach
879-0489 for more information
For those of you who are looking for some cool adventure to start off the new year, the Special Olympics Annual Lobster Dip at OOB is for you. Held on New Year’s Day, sign-up begins at 10 a.m., with the dip at noon. Following the dip there will be a post-dip party. Take the plunge for a great cause and show everyone how brave you are. And for those who don’t want to brave the waters, go and support those who do.

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