Texans -- hoping for better economic times -- rang in 2009 with big outdoor events, music and, of course, fireworks.
New Year's Eve revelers and Dallas Stars fans who had attended the sold-out game mingled outside American Airlines Center during festivities at the second Big D/NYE New Year's Eve celebration at Victory Park Wednesday night.
Organizers said the 2007 event at the AT&T Plaza got off to a slow start, but it ended with a crowd of nearly 30,000 people. Attendance figures for the 2008 event were not immediately available but as midnight approached, the plaza was packed with crowds filling the surrounding streets.
Organizers stepped up their offerings with more concessions and improved fireworks. They also had an additional video screen for revelers.
Victory Park restaurants called the New Year's Eve celebration a victory. Most restaurants at Victory Park said they were booked solid days before New Year's Eve, a far cry from what business looked like for most of 2008.
"It was scary at the beginning of the summer, because we weren't seeing as many people coming in or spending that much time at the tables with friends," said John Cronin, general manager of Victory Tavern.
However, restaurant owners said despite a slow year, they expected large crowds New's Year Eve.
"We knew people were going to splurge," Cronin said. "This is the last hoorah of '08 and everyone wants to see it go away."
Olympic gymnast and North Texas resident Carly Patterson, former Dallas Cowboys player and Heisman Trophy winner Raghib "Rocket" Ismail along with soldiers home from Iraq participated in the Dallas celebration.
The Mo Robson Band started off the event. Cross Canadian Ragweed performed inside the House of Blues while Professor D, a Dallas party band, rocked the plaza.
In Austin, thousands of people said hello to the new year at a downtown party which included aerial dancers in the City Hall lobby and the World's Fastest Hamlet: 15-minute, 2-minute and 10-second comedic versions of the play under a bridge.
The 34-foot-tall Resolution Clock erupted in flames just after 8:15 on New Year's Eve, delighting a crowd that had come to see it burn, the Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday in its online edition. The clock tower took six weeks to build but quickly burned to the ground.
Some celebrated well before the clock struck midnight.
The Children's Museum of Houston had a ball drop, parade and other activities, around noon on New Year's Eve. Children also designed parade floats and used noisemakers and fake fireworks sparklers, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday in its online edition.