By Carey Codd

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) -A crowd of thousands rang in 2011 at the Downtown Countdown in Fort Lauderdale, with many saying good riddance to 2010 — a year that will largely be remembered for high unemployment and a struggling economy.

“It’s been economically trying,” said Tanya Tooker. “It’s been a hard year. We’re happy for 2011.”

Many in the crowd echoed her sentiments, hoping for better success personally and nationally in the days ahead.

“It’s been a trying year. It’s definitely one to be remembered,” said Ken Graves. “But I’m looking forward to 2011 and a lot of changes coming our way.”

As the clock ticked towards a new year, optimism reined.

“We want to believe in prosperity,” Nichele Stephens told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “The economy is not that good but our economy in our house is gonna be good. We’re gonna save this year.”

Many appeared grateful for all the good things in their lives.

“I’m just very happy to be here to be alive and thanking God for everything,” said Louis San Miguel. “I have a job right now. It’s been very difficult. To have a job right now, it’s just a blessing.”

The party — which closed off SW 2nd Street — kicked off at 3 pm with activities for kids. While a clown painted faces, dozens of kids lined up to jump around in massive bounce houses and ride inflatable slides. Children munched on cotton candy and danced in the streets with glow sticks.

Brandon Graves seemed gleeful that his bedtime was being pushed back to “midnight.”

Fried foods — funnel cakes, corn dogs and fried shrimp — tempted many an eater, although lots of people cited staying healthy as a top priority for 2011.

David Rosa said his goal for the New Year is his “health. I just turned 51, so health is very important.”

As night fell, the huge ball with 10,000 LED lights turned on and revelers danced to live music, mingled and drank.

2011 is special for the city of Fort Lauderdale. It marks the 100th anniversary of the city’s founding. Two “100” signs sat atop the city’s countdown clocks.

Attendee Shannon Jenkins seemed to have his priorities in order for the year ahead.

“It’s about family and having love surrounding you and being prosperous,” he said.


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