New Year's Eve: Decadence of Daytona on display tonight with 20,000 strong partying, puking & driving home drunk


New Year's Eve partying on Main Street in Daytona / Headline Surfer® Headline Surfer® videos and photos / Rockin' in the New Year's Eve party Daytona Beach-style is shown from Main Street as 2012 gave way to the current year. The alcohol-fueled CRA-sponsored party on Main Street returns tonight with 20,000 strong expected to usher in 2014 with the usual array of trashiness, drunkenness and naughtiness. At left, a woman in her early 50s, raises a glass of beer with her pre-teen daughter between her and a friend, to the anthem that draws thunderous cheers from the crowd -- blaring from large speakers -- the Beastie Boys' 1986 MTV-generation anthem, '(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party).'

DAYTONA BEACH -- Paul Politis, one of Daytona Beach's more prominent and longstanding small business owners with his Gator Beach and Sports across from the Ocean Walk Shoppes on A1A knows all too well that tonight's New Year's Eve block party on Main Street appeals to the lowest common denominator: Thousands of revelers drinking until they puke with little kids in tow and some even getting behind the wheel drunk for the early morning drive home -- the ultimate honk-tonk family outing.

It's the antithesis of what he and other merchants and civic leaders have been lobbying against for three decades to no avail -- like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day; each year ending and a new year beginning with the hedonism sandwiched in between.

"It's a continuation of the same-old, same-old," said Politis, 49, married with one child. "We don't do anything classy in Daytona. I'm very skeptical the Hard Rock and these people truly putting their brand here like we heard with Ocean Walk. Look at how that turned out. All the city powers like (City Manager Jim) Chisholm care about is selling a few Buds here and there and keeping the party going throughout the year with the Special Events."

And with a city wholly dependent on such events like Speed Weeks (culminating in the Daytona 500) and Bike Week, pushing the booze helps the bottom line with no incentive to really change the dichotomy of a city that has seen Spring Break and Black College Reunion fizzle.

Bunny ears teen gal part of the New Year's Eve party in Daytona / Headline Surfer®In this scene setter at right, a young gal checks out a text on her phone while an older guy sucks down a beer during the New Year's Eve party on Main Street ringing in 2013.

Now even Bike Week and Biketoberfest are beginning to wane as more of the events move away city altogether, even Bruce Rossmeyer's Harley-Davidson dealership on Beach Street boarded up in favor the sprawling Destination Daytona 15 miles up the road in Ormond.

For Politis' older brother, Michael, an attorney who is a corporate sponsor of the New Year's Eve event, the party makes sense for his line of work in marketing his legal services to those either in trouble with the law or in an accident and needing help. After all, the clientele is out there.

All year long, the politicians and business leaders wax poetic about Daytona Beach's future blossoming with the coming of the Hard Rock Cafe and the Russian Towers.

But in a city beset by lack of decent-paying jobs, an entrenched poor mainland minority population with violent crime, drugs and guns aplenty even in the tourist beachside, tonight's the night to let it all hang out.

And Paul Politis said he wants no part of it. 

And what better place for 20,000 strong to party like it's 1999, than the beachside's Main Street, the once-sacred ground zero for Bike Week that has seen its better days come and go in favor of the amenities of the newer Destination Daytona or bikers staying away altogether with rising costs for hotel accommodations and the ban on beach driving near the Bandshell now more than a decade old. 

Young man boldly holds up beer nearcop car during New Years on Main Street in Daytona / Headline Surfer®Father and son argue during New Year's in Daytona / Headline Surfer®A young man young man shows no fear sporting a bottle of beer while posing next to a Daytona Beach cop car on Main Street during the 2012 New Year's Eve bash on Main Street. in the inset, a father deals with an uncooperative son.

The only big-wig politician likely to be spotted among the masses tonight is Police Chief Michael Chitwood who gears up for the block party with a cavalcade of cops who last year threw a few loner winos in jail overnight for carrying an open container of alcohol.

Chitwood did not return calls for comment nor did Mayor Derrick Henry. 

It's far from the safe drink-as-you-will confines of Main Street where the city's open container law will be excused for the New Year's Eve party involving man, woman and even child.

Yes, parents actually bring their children to this solemn and sacred celebration on Main Street, even toddlers and infants, who sleep in the arms of their parents who juggle them and a beer or cigarette, or sometimes the child cradled in one arm with a beer clutched in one hand and the other hand for puffing of the cigarette.

And how do the families deal with bringing little kids into the bars? Well, they don't have to. The bars take the booze right out in the middle of Main Street where revelers can get the diverse assortments of beers, wines, hard liquors.

Ah yes, when it's time to leave before the sun rises, then the puking in the adjacent church parking lots become the norm where parking is either free or a nominal fee of $5. Then it's the arguing over who is less inebriated to get behinds the wheel for the short drive home, even when the circumstances are as you can probably guess: Both are likely drunk or close to it.

But amazingly, with a reported 20,000 New Year's revelers at the 2013 New Year's Eve bash and the dropping of the chintzy over-sized beach ball, not a single DUI arrest. Amazing isn't it?

The ball drops to rng in 2013 on Main Street in Daytona / Headline Surfer®Booze is sold in the middle of Main Street for New Years in Daytona / Headline Surfer®A beach-ball-like figurine drops from a mini-crane as the countdown begins to ring in 2013 on Main Street in Daytona Beach. Below, the cash drawers are constantly filled with cash from the non-stop sale of booze right in the middle of the street in make-shift bars. 

As for the occasional and obvious exposure of breasts during the maze of young old ands somewhere in between all bunched up like sardines?

Who is going to complain, other than wives or girlfriends smacking their significant other for drooling over a scantily clad woman or a tub girl in a thong and bikini top bending over to retrieve a cold beer and the expectation of getting a tip for exposing some of her assets.

Yes, its the night of the hunt where packs of women dressed in skimpy clothes (bras optional) with elastic-band thongs showing above hip huggers and the tramp-stamp tattoo. And these are the middle-age women who dress even trashier than the jail-bait crowd with their stud-looking boyfriends in cowboy boots.

And there are the array of luring older men with receding hairlines and big bellies on the prowl, the macho vulgar language and failed pick-up one-liners within earshot of the little ones looking up to mom and dad or mom and the boyfriend staggering about. 

This isn't the kind of story you'll find in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the chamber-friendly print medium all too happy to promote the day's earlier events the day before in exchange for that all-too-valuable CRA advertising while ignoring the actual party.

This is where the dying news media gives way to "new media" of Headline Surfer® with multi-media emphasis on sight and sound through videos, along with candidly-reported stories.

"This isn't a place I would take my wife and child," Paul Politis said of the New Year's Eve booze bash, "but for this crowd, it's the big party -- honky tonk and all."



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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.