Ten!  Nine!  Eight!  Seven!  Six!  Five!  Four!  Three!  Two!  One!  Happy New Year!  The ball drops in New York City. In pajamas, fuzzy slippers and silly cardboard party hats, Tim and I share a kiss and a champagne toast.  The kids call to say Happy New Year from wherever they are celebrating in their respective cities across the country.  Then, we yawn and call it done.

This scene is the typical New Years in the Phillips’ household.  Even when the kids were still around, it’s usually been our little family and Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.

But this year is going to be different.

1931389_1245353539864_3994194_nLike everyone, we realize the gravity of another year slipping away and the promise of a new one full of potential and possibility.  We commemorate the New Year, just quietly, safely at home and off the roads.  That’s what we tell one another, anyway.  The fact is, without venturing far from home, there really haven’t been any other options to consider.  Going to a bar has never sounded appealing; nor has traversing off to some city hot spot to dance and party with a bunch of strangers.  So we and Dick Clark et al have had a standing New Year’s Eve date for decades.

Like I said…until now.  Because this New Year, it’s going to be different.

Lil’d NYE is the reason.  For the first time, Denton has a New Year’s alternative.  The United Way of Denton County and the Greater Denton Arts Council are teaming up to produce this inaugural celebration.  From 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center, Denton will make merry and raise funds for these two organizations at the same time.

“This is an event Denton has been waiting for,” said Monica Glenn, Chair of the Lil’d NYE planning committee.  “This is the first time these two organizations have partnered.  We are excited to welcome 2017 while supporting arts and advocacy in Denton.”

Picture it.  Gaming tables featuring favorites from craps and roulette to blackjack and Texas Hold ‘Em, dancing, delicious food and drinks, all among friends dressed to the nines in their cocktail best!  Vintage Las Vegas comes to Denton.

1931389_1245350979800_6229092_nThe moment we heard about Lil’d NYE, we started making plans.  The ticket purchasing process was simple.  There are multiple package options for singles and couples available online, some even including a hotel stay.  Every package includes entrance, valet parking, a couple of drink tickets and play money for gaming, which is the kind of money that makes gaming fun, if you ask me.  Tim and I are both too tight-fisted to enjoy real gambling with our hard-earned dollars.  In this kind of casino though, dealers are helpful, everyone is happy and playing for fun, and the cash is monopoly money.  Win it all, and you could take home the giant, biggest-winner gift basket.  Lose it all, and win more time for dancing.  David Pierce and his Holiday Orchestra will play Big Band greats and romantic, cheek-to-cheek oldies, interspersed with tunes from DJ Woodtronic.

I was lucky to be invited to serve on the tasting committee for Lil’d NYE.  Oh, man!  The food alone is a celebration.  Barley & Board is catering a menu that ramps the event up to an incomparable, delectable level.  The food is art itself, beautifully presented, hearty and delicious.  In my personal opinion, the macaroni and cheese alone is worth attending.  But from appetizers to desserts, the spread is going to be amazing.

Every year, the Chamber and Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) receive countless calls from people asking for recommendations for New Years Eve activities.  In a city like ours, so well-known for something happening all the time, it’s been surprising how little Denton has had to offer on this famous going-out night until this year.  Ideas for some kind of New Year’s festival have cropped up here and there, but none have panned out.  Perhaps because Denton is prime now for an event of this caliber, one that’s Denton-style fancy and fun while simultaneously making a significant impact on our community’s well-being.

“It is going to be an amazing party that everyone will remember,” Monica said.  “We hope to make ringing in the new year an annual tradition in this town we all love.”

It has arrived.  Lil’d NYE is the place to be this December 31.  Best of all?  Tim and I will be yelling out that countdown and toasting the New Year among our Denton family and friends.

So long, Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.  The ball will drop without us this year.  We’re going out!

See www.lildnye.com for ticket packages and event details.