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New Year's Eve celebration preparations underway in Barrie

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Preparations are underway downtown Barrie as the city gets ready for its big New Year's Eve celebration.

The City of Barrie will ring in 2024 with its annual New Year's Eve Downtown Countdown, including several performances, vendors, activities, and fireworks displays.

 "As you can see, we're building the stage just behind me here, and we're getting excited for a really big party," said Ashley Chappell, City of Barrie.

 The festivities will kick off beginning at 6 p.m.

 "We kick off the evening with our children's downtown countdown, which is really cute. We have Sunshine and Broccoli coming to do a big performance for us, and then we do a full countdown and fireworks for the kids at 8 p.m.," Chappell said. "Shortly after that, we start off with some of the adult fun where we have Bleeker coming, we have a local band coming called the Faculty, and then we've got our big headliner, which is Big Wreck, and they'll be hitting the stage before midnight and then a full countdown and fireworks," said Chappell.

There are road closures downtown that will be in place during the festivities, although officials with the city say free transit will be available.

 "It's a little bit more difficult to come downtown only because we did close down Collier Street because that's where we've got the stage being built, and it does fill up quickly down there, but it is easy to get downtown; I know Barrie Transit which is one of our partners have extended their transit service all the way through until three am and after five pm it's free. So, everyone can get home safely from the event as well."

 Local stores in the city are also feeling New Year's Eve rush.

 For 35 years now, The Party Store, which is a family-owned business, has been a staple for all big events and celebrations.

The owner, Brian Tracey, said New Year's Eve is the second busiest time of the year.

 "Christmas, everyone's busy, everyone's shopping, at all the malls, and it's a real hustle to get everything done and then once that's over, they then relax and go 'oh my god, New Year's' so we do see a huge rush of people down to the last few days," he said.

 Tracey added that some items get swept off the shelves sooner than others.

 "Ballons really are the key item; if you're going to go to an event, you're going to expect some type of a horn or noise maker, some type of a hat, but it's really the balloons that make the party," Tracey said.

 The Party Store is expecting one big last rush on Sunday morning.

 As for the City of Barrie, officials anticipate roughly 10,000 people in attendance.

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