BELFAST — Persistent rain did little to dampen the spirits of those celebrating New Year’s Eve in Belfast. Tradition was on tap during the weekend as a trio of events took center stage.

The celebrations began with mixed emotions as Chase’s Daily served its final meal before closing its door permanently on Dec. 31, 2022, at 5:30 p.m.

Chase’s has been a fixture on Belfast’s Main Street for over two decades. Owners Addison and Penny Reed made the difficult decision to close the vegetarian farm-to-table restaurant and market in late November.

Once the decision was made, Chase’s scheduled a final meal that was offered, free of charge, to anyone who chose to attend. Donations were accepted by diners with the proceeds going to the staff to ease their transition into new employment opportunities.

Employees of Chase’s Daily help serve customers during the popular restaurant’s last meal on Dec. 31. Photo by Michelle Christian

Over 100 Chase’s fans showed up to dine, swap stories and say goodbye to a treasured community business.

The last meal at Chase’s Daily. The restaurant closed permanently after serving free meals to diners on Dec. 31, 2022. Photo by Michelle Christian

Emotions were more focused as the midnight hour approached.

The Drum and Rabble Marching Society gathered at Main and High streets to celebrate the New Year. The Society’s “professional” drummers were joined by dozen of part-time percussionists and the group marched, danced and drummed its way to Heritage Park, where a bonfire was lit at the stroke of midnight.  The Drum and Rabble Marching Society has held this celebration for the past 15 years.

Participants in the Drum and Rabble Marching Society New Year’s celebration march to Heritage Park. Photo by Michelle Christian.

After the bonfire was lit to ring in the New Year, revelers continued with their drumming and dancing, while others chose to take a dip in the bay about 12 hours later.

Participants wait for the noon hour and a chance to take the Polar Plunge into Belfast Bay Jan. 1, 2023. Photo by Michelle Christian

A dip in Belfast Bay was the focus of the Polar Plunge at noon on Jan. 1. Nearly 100 hearty souls turned out to dip more than a toe into the frigid waters by the boat ramp. This tradition is an annual rite of winter in Belfast.

Participants take the Polar Plunge on Jan. 1 in Belfast. Photo by Michelle Christian