By Rachel Christian
St. Cloud is getting ready to rock this New Year’s Eve weekend.
Rockin’ the Cloud returns to Sunday, following a successful debut and large crowd turnout last year. The free outdoor music festival was launched by the St. Cloud Parks and Recreation Department in 2016 as a way to offer locals a safe way to bring in the new year.
“There weren’t too many other events going on in the area for New Year’s Eve, and not
everyone wants to travel far in order to have a good time,” said event organizer Erin Oaks. “We wanted to give people something fun, free and close by.”
Around 5,000 people came out to enjoy last year’s celebration (which included a novelty “Cloud Drop” at midnight, back again this year by popular demand).
Oaks said she and her fellow organizers have been working since May to tweak and improve the new celebration, which begins at 6 p.m. Sunday near the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Tenth Street in St. Cloud.
So what’s new this year?
For starters, there are two stages instead of one.
This year, Rockin’ the Cloud will feature two stages to give attendees more music options. Four bands – Tobacco Road Band, Doubting Abby, Wilted Chilis and Red Hot Rooster – will take to one of the two stages this Saturday.
Oaks said the bands were chosen because their music spans several genres.
“From rock to country to modern hits, there’s something for almost everyone,” she said. “And if you don’t like what’s going on at the main stage, you can always check out the other one.”
More to eat and drink
Oaks said organizers worked more closely this year with businesses on Pennsylvania Avenue, especially ones along the two-block stretch from 10th to 12th Streets where the event is taking place.
The street will be blocked off for Rockin’ the Cloud, and restaurants in this area are offering extended hours for event attendees. There will also be food trucks on-site and alcoholic beverages for purchase.
Oaks said the planning committee coordinated closely with local businesses to help pull resources for Rockin’ the Cloud.
“There were some other, smaller events going on at the same time last year, and we wanted to avoid that,” Oaks said. “We wanted to try and bring everyone together so that the event could be as large and successful as possible.”
Keeping the Cloud sustainable
Rockin’ the Cloud resulted in a hefty bill for the city of St. Cloud last year. Advertising and marketing costs left organizers, including Oaks, wondering how they could save the city money and still keep the new event free for the community.
Event planners once again turned to local businesses and organizations for support. Rockin the Cloud locked in several private sponsors this year, including OUC and the tourism marketing group Experience Kissimmee. Oaks said the committee collected about $40,000 in sponsorship this year that helped keep the event free to the public.
Other things to know if you go
The Cloud Drop will take place at the stroke of midnight.
No tickets are required.
Limited public parking and handicap parking will be available on New York Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue and the City Hall parking lot. Alcohol can be purchased on site, but outside alcoholic beverages are not permitted.
For more information, visit www.rockinthecloud