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Revitalized city offers something for everyone on New Year’s Eve

Ice, cold wind, cold drinks and hot ones, balls, and balloons dropping, and plenty of good cheer.

There truly was something for everyone Wednesday night in downtown Buffalo, as 2015 blew into a revitalized city with a bitter wind off Lake Erie.

There were hockey fans watching the Buffalo Sabres playing their annual New Year’s Eve game; several thousand people who descended on the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center for First Night Buffalo activities; and thousands more who braved the bitter wind to watch a lighted ball drop from the Electric Tower; and even a few who took to the ice at Canalside even though skating had been canceled earlier because of the weather.

“We were going to come skating and then go to (716), and obviously we can’t go skating because it’s closed,” said David Nelson of West Seneca. “But we‘re doing everything else. We’re going to hit the Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza for a little bit, just to say we did it. Then we’ll go to (716) for dinner, and watch the Sabres game hopefully.”

Then he and his girlfriend and a couple of other friends planned to watch the ball drop in Roosevelt Square.

Robin and Rakeim Legrand of Buffalo took their four daughters, Ava, 4, Kristin, 7, Kayla, 9, and Alexandria, 13, to Independent Health Foundation’s First Night Buffalo drug-and alcohol-free event at the Convention Center. There was something to do in every room of the center.

“I like that it’s geared toward the kids. It seems very family friendly, and so far the kids are excited and having a good time,” Robin Legrand said.

Ask 9-year-old Kayla what her New Year’s resolution is, and she doesn’t have to think long.

“I want to be a pop star,” she said.

What will you have to do to reach that goal?

“Sing more, probably,” she said.

Her sisters want to do well in school. Kristin wants every student to get A’s, and Alexandria wants to graduate from St. Mark’s School with first honors.

For Amber Maracle of Buffalo, the New Year brings a resolve to stop drinking Pepsi. She took her children, Katarina, 14, Christopher, 10, Natalia, 7, and Angel, 4, to First Night and then they were off to a social sponsored by the Seneca Nation of Indians.

Lily Lyons of the Town of Tonawanda last attended First Night when it was held in locations throughout the city. Wednesday she was there with her husband, Rick, son, Ethan, 11, and neighbor, Krissie Heaton. And Lily Lyons was waiting to see the “Hungry Caterpillar,” one of the story book and comic book characters at the convention center.

While Ethan was wearing a Sabres jersey, his mother still remembers reading the book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” to him when he was younger.

Rick Lyons doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions, “because I never keep them,” he said.

But Lily Lyons said the family, like most others, just wants to keep staying healthy in the new year.

The countdown to the new year and balloon and confetti drop started just before 10 p.m. for the young crowd at First Night, and continued to midnight for the thousands gathered downtown outside the Electric Tower on Washington Street.