1. The Buffalo Ball Drop marks the changing of the year in gala fashion for the 23rd time tonight. After the illuminated ball, containing some 1,800 lights, descends from the top of the Electric Tower at Genesee and Washington streets at midnight, a spectacular fireworks display will light up the sky to celebrate the arrival of 2011. Before that happens, revelers in Roosevelt Square will be treated to a concert by More Than Me, the local band that opened a Paul McCartney show in London last summer, and family fun led by quizmaster Dennis George. Festivities begin at 10:30 p.m.
2. Those who don't want to stay up late can celebrate at First Night Buffalo, the family oriented drug-free and alcohol-free program in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, a couple blocks from the ball drop. There will be laser tag, skating and games from 5 to 10 p.m. Entertainers include Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics, Skyhunters Birds of Prey, Comedy Hypnotist The Incredible Boris and In Jest Comedy and Juggling featuring Nels Ross. Tickets are $8 in advance at Wegmans, $10 at the door. Kids 2 and under get in free. Parking in downtown ramps is free tonight, too.
3. On the American side of Niagara Falls, the Hard Rock Cafe hosts a New Year's Eve Guitar Drop at midnight on Old Falls Street. The rock band Smash Mouth will headline a free outdoor street party that starts at 8 p.m. And, of course, there will be fireworks. From 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. there also are free family activities on Old Falls Street. On the Canadian side, there's a free outdoor party in Queen Victoria Park with two fireworks displays over the falls and live music by Great Big Sea and Barenaked Ladies. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. with fireworks at 9 p.m. and midnight.
4. Team USA is back in action for the second day in row in the final round of preliminaries in the World Junior Hockey Championship in HSBC Arena. The Americans take on Switzerland at 8 p.m. in a game telecast on the NHL Network. Also telecast will be the 4 p.m. match between Canada and Sweden. Expect the international bridges to be crowded once again with hockey fans. The Peace Bridge, meanwhile, will be lit up tonight in red, indigo blue and white in honor of Team Norway.
5. It's a low-key inauguration tonight for Gov.-elect Andrew M. Cuomo and Lt. Gov.-elect Robert Duffy, in keeping with the mood of austerity in Albany. They'll take the oath of office in a private ceremony in the Executive Mansion. They'll take the oath again Saturday in a bigger public event in the Governor's Reception Room, also known as the War Room, along with Comptroller-elect Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General-elect Eric Schneiderman.
6. What would New Year's Eve be without a full slate of college football bowl games? Today's lineup includes Clemson vs. South Florida at noon in the Meineke Bowl; Notre Dame vs. Miami at 2 p.m. in the Sun Bowl; Georgia vs. UCF (University of Central Florida) at 3:30 p.m. in the Liberty Bowl; and South Carolina vs. Florida State at 7:30 p.m. in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Sun Bowl game is on WIVB, Ch. 4. The others can be seen on ESPN.
7. The sixth day of Kwanzaa highlights Kuumba, or Creativity, and those who celebrate are invited to bring their talents and their appreciation of artistry to the JFK Center, 114 Hickory St., from 7 to 9 p.m. Those who are creative in the kitchen are encouraged to bring dishes to share for a feast, but no red meat, pork or alcohol, please. For those who are performers, there's an open mic. Tonight also marks the last public celebration of the holiday. For the seventh night, Imani, or Faith, celebrants are invited to spend the time at home with family and friends reflecting on what was learned during the first six days.