Thousands flock to Miami, Fort Lauderdale events to ring in 2017

MIAMI (WSVN) - Thousands of revelers partied like it’s 2017 at events in Downtown Miami and Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Saturday night, as they counted down the minutes until the stroke of midnight to ring in a new year.

Large crowds showed up at Bayfront Park, in Downtown Miami, to attend Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution, a concert headlined by Miami-born rapper Pitbull, Saturday night. “It’s called Revolution because we want to ‘unmute’ New Years and make it the new New Year’s,” said Pitbull, “take it from the Big Apple to the pineapple and make Miami the mecca.”

7News cameras captured the jubilant crowds making their way to Bayfront Park. “Great atmosphere, good weather, good place to be,” said vendor Donnell Brown.

Queen Latifah, Snoop Dogg, Salt-N-Pepa and other renowned hip-hop artists are scheduled to take the stage at the free event, beginning at 11 p.m., one hour before before the Big Orange rises up the side of the InterContinental Hotel. “You’re gonna see people bringing in 2017 with a bang,” said Snoop Dogg.

The hip-hop legend’s loyal following made the trip to Miami to see him perform live. “Snoop Dogg is really, really great,” said fan Michael Nalepa.

“I follow him on Instagram. He’s really nice,” said Stephanie Nalepa.

Backstage, 7News chatted with a few other fan favorites, like musician Austin Mahone, who showed other artists some love. “It gets even better every time. We’ve got Snoop here, Biz Markie,” he said

Markie said he sees this performance as an opportunity to show a new generation some classic hip-hop. “Making people shake, you know,” he said.

Markie even gave 7News a taste of his song “Just a Friend,” a mix of old school and new sounds.

Meanwhile, out in the crows, attendee Terry Unchali felt the excitement level rise. “Usually I’m in New York City,” he said. “I’ve watched this event before on TV. Now I get to experience it live. I’m really excited.”

And it’s this euphoria that, Pitbull said, makes the festivities even more special. “All this music is what allows me to understand the true meaning of party,” said Pitbull, “and party is get loose, have fun, escape, enjoy.”

Pitbull also hosted a special VIP food and wine party, with award winning chef Michelle Michelle Bernstein. The event was presented by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Revelers of all ages also descended on Downtown Fort Lauderdale to take part in the annual Orange Bowl Downtown Countdown.

Traci Bogey arrived early to the festivities. “The weather is fabulous. It’s a little cool for South Florida, but it’s beautiful,” she said.

As the temperatures rose, so did the crowds. Some turned out to ring in 2017 with a big balloon drop a few hours early.

The free, family-friendly festival features a larger-than-life illuminated anchor that descends from 100 feet in the air, once at 7 o’clock for the younger party animals and again at midnight.

With bounce houses and games lining Southwest Second Street, there is plenty for the family to do. “It’s wild. It’s great,” said reveler Damani Dudley. “You’ve got two sides for the adults and this one for the kids. I love it.”

“We love coming here every single year. We bring the kids, and we have a great time,” said Isadelle Mercedes. “We love that the anchor gets lit up for them.”

Reveler Paul Vayshelboym marveled at the ideal weather. “I feel bad for anyone that doesn’t live here,” he said. “It’s beautiful. You can’t ask for much better than this in January.”

Dudley, originally from Michigan, said there’s no place he’d rather be with his daughter. “Oh, it’s like 23 to 30 degrees up there right now, so I’m not missing that one bit,” he said.

As day turned into night, the streets filled with thousands of people and bands played along Southwest Second Street.

Adults found everything they needed, from chicken kabobs to cold beer and champagne or cocktail.

Celebrants lit up the night with glitz and glam to bid farewell to 2016. “As the night goes on, you have beautiful girls and great-looking guys with their high heels and their fine attire, and we get to see the new year together,” said Judy Karpis.

At midnight, the larger-than-life illuminated anchor that’s hoisted high above the crowd will make its 100-foot drop to ring in a new year filled with plenty of promises, wishes and resolutions.

“I hope next year is as good as this year,” said Chris Schweer.

City of Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo advised revelers to use public transportation to head to Downtown Miami. “Take advantage of our mass transit. Metrorail, Metromover, they’re going to be operating until the wee hours of the night,” he said. “Come down, leave your keys at home, your cars at home, and have a great time with the family.”

Crews have since begun to disassemble the stage in Bayfront Park.

Copyright 2017 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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