PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Downtown Panama City businesses are preparing for the New Year’s Eve Block Party, held on Harrison Avenue on Friday. They hope that 3,500 to 5,000 people will attend the free event. 

“All we want is to see this downtown flourish like it used to,” Kim Stiegler, owner of “The Place” said. We’ve seen lots of leaps and bounds just in the last year alone so we’re so excited to have so many new neighbors and we’re looking forward to welcoming some more.”

The event is free to the public. There will be food vendors and restaurants open to order food from. People will also be able to buy alcoholic drinks and bring have them out downtown during the festivities. 

“The past couple years have been really rough,” Kevin Mitchell, owner of ‘The Press’ said. “Nobody wanted to do anything, nobody could do anything. I think it’s a new step in the right direction with the growth downtown. Streetscapes is coming and a lot of businesses have been opened in the past year. A lot of new life and vitality in downtown Panama City.”

Harrison Avenue will be closed at 12 pm. Friday from Panama City City Hall to McKenzie Park. There will be a countdown until 8 pm. for kids, followed by the midnight New Year’s countdown.  

“I believe in our community, I believe in our supporters, I believe in the people who shop and eat down here everyday,” Mitchell said. “And we’re going to put an event that is worthy of their loyalty and invite them to be here.”