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niceville
12-17-2009, 11:25 AM
PANAMA CITY BEACH TO RING IN NEW YEAR WITH SECOND ANNUAL BEACH BALL DROP

While the commonality between a giant Waterford Crystal and an 800-pound beach ball is not obvious, the season offers a clue. On Thursday, December 31, New Year’s 2010 will be ushered in by traditional countdown “drops” across the nation. Just as New York City has its Times Square Crystal Ball, Panama City Beach (http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/) in Northwest Fla. will embrace its seaside roots with the second annual Panama City Beach Beach Ball Drop presented by Southwest Airlines. In collaboration with Southwest Airlines (http://www.southwest.com/?src=ECPBALLDROP121109) and hosted by Pier Park, Panama City Beach’s Beach Ball Drop event represents what the destination is all about -- white sand beaches, family togetherness and just plain fun.

“Last year’s inaugural Beach Ball Drop attracted 12,000 visitors, and we’re expecting that number to grow this year,” said Dan Rowe, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The destination is in a celebratory mood in anticipation of the New Year as it will bring exciting new developments our way. This includes the May opening of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and a long-lasting partnership with Southwest Airlines.”

Southwest Airlines, the first airline to announce service to the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, rings in the new year with Panama City Beach in serving as the presenting sponsor for the annual event. The 800-pound glowing beach ball begins the more than 100-foot descent just before midnight on December 31. Pier Park festivities, free and open to the public, begin at 5:30 p.m. with family-friendly entertainment including bounce houses, party favors, street performers, stilt walkers and face painters. The family portion of the event culminates at 8:30 p.m. with fireworks and a family ball drop, consisting of 7,000 inflatable beach balls.

The countdown celebration takes place from 9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. when streets will be closed to traffic. In addition to the highly-anticipated beach ball drop, guests will enjoy live musical performances, prize giveaways including six pairs of round trip airfare compliments of Southwest Airlines and a majestic midnight fireworks display over the Gulf of Mexico.

Panama City Beach is offering compelling value deals to entice travelers to extend their New Year’s weekend. New Year’s rates at select Resort Collection properties start at $99 per night for gulf-front accommodations when reservations are booked online using promo code: NYE. Additionally, guests who enjoy a two-night minimum stay will have their cleaning fee waived. To book, call (866) 203-1164 or visit www.ResortsPCBeach.com (http://www.resortspcbeach.com/).

Beach Break by the Sea, a gulf-front hotel located walking distance from Pier Park, is offering a $59 per couple, per night package through January 4, 2009. The package includes continental breakfast, free kids meals at Calypso Beach Café and free shuttle service to New Year’s Eve at Pier Park. Parents receive one free kids’ meal with every purchase of an adult meal, applicable to children ages 12 and under. To book, call (800) 346-4709 or visit www.beachbreakbythesea.com (http://www.beachbreakbythesea.com/). The same packages are also available at Legacy by the Sea and Beachcomber by the Sea for $79 per night, per couple. To book, call Legacy by the Sea at (888) 886-8917 or visit www.legacybythesea.com (http://www.legacybythesea.com/). For Beachcomber by the Sea, call (888) 886-8916 or visit www.beachcomberbythesea.com (http://www.beachcomberbythesea.com/).

With every stay at any of Panama City Beach’s Sterling Resorts, guests will receive a complimentary bottle of champagne, two champagne glasses, insulated wine bag and sterling silver wine cork upon check in. Shuttle service will be provided from all of Sterling Resorts’ Panama City Beach properties to the Beach Ball Drop at Pier Park. Sterling Resorts New Year’s Eve rates begin at $99 per night with late check-out at noon. To book, visit www.sterlingresorts.com (http://www.sterlingresorts.com/) or call (888) 627-1607.

Sugar Sands Inn & Suites, just a short distance from Pier Park, is offering guests every third night free through January 31 and rates starting at $69 per night. To book, call Sugar Sands at (800) 367-9221 or visit www.sugarsands.com (http://www.sugarsands.com/).

For more information on the Panama City Beach Beach Ball Drop presented by Southwest Airlines, visit www.visitpanamacitybeach.com (http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/).