MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Excitement is building as the clock is winding down on 2013 and the start of 2014 is just around the corner.

Thousands of people gathered in Downtown Miami Tuesday to mark the end of 2013.

In traditional South Florida style, the “Big Orange” was the centerpiece of the celebration, which visitors from near and far stopping to pose with the neon fruit as it awaited its rise up the Intercontinental Hotel.

“It’s very beautiful. It’s the first time I see it. Up close it looks very nice,” Ariel Conde said. “It’s brighter than we thought.

Unlike the crystal ball that drops in New York City, the Big Orange, or La Gran Narjana as it was known throughout the year, actually ascends.

It’s a change for some who’ve never started a new year in Miami.

“We have a shoe that drops in Key West and a conch shell, so this is a lot different that what I’m used to,” Dave Clark said.

“It think it’s amazing,” Ignacio Torres said. “We’re used to things going down, and that’s going up.”

The orange has some company on the side of the InterContinental Hotel.

Three new dancers debuted just in time for 2014, their silhouettes on display for New Year’s Eve revelers to watch and enjoy.

For the first time, there’s a man in the mix.

“I just did a little something, didn’t have anything really put together,” dancer J. Marcos told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana about his audition. “They put Pitbull on, Mr. 305 of course, I jammed out a little bit and the guys were like, ‘Hey we’d like to talk to you.’ And I was like, ‘I thought it was a girl’.”

The hotel held auditions for the “dancing lady” earlier in 2013.

Previously, one woman did the honors, but that’s changing for 2014.

“Miami is stepping it up,” Marcos said. “We finally caught up with New York, LA and London.”

So, it’s no wonder visitors from all over the globe choose to ring in the new year 305-style.

“The hottest place to go, it’s nice and warm, it’s beautiful,” Lina Voronkevich said.

Voronkevich and her family are spending some time in South Florida to escape the cold weather back home in Lithuania.

With her daughter and husband by her side, she explained the importance of celebrating as a family.

“If you stay together on New Year’s Eve you’ll stay together all year,” Voronkevich said.

The end of one year and the beginning of another is often a time of reflection.

In the midst of the music, food and fun, some people set goals for the future.

“I hope it’s a year for change and for good things to come for everybody,” Ignacio Torres said.

Parts of Ft. Lauderdale have been transformed for one of the most festive nights of the year.

Southwest 2nd Street from 2nd Avenue to 5th Avenue will be closed to traffic for the annual Orange Bowl Downtown Countdown which started at 4 p.m.  The park area next to the Performing Arts Center is filled with bounce houses and other activities for young children.

At the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood they are expecting at least 15,000 people to celebrate the New Year with dinner, dancing, live bands, deejays and more. Michelle Shaw, visiting from Louisville, said the Hard Rock has it all.

“(It’s) just a lot of fun and you never know what you’re gonna see here,” she said. “Just great entertainers and things just show up.”


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