People filled undeveloped vacant properties on Apollo Beach Boulevard.
Others gathered at homes around the waterfront community for house parties, and some watched from boats on the water.
But many rolled into Circles Waterfront Restaurant last year to witness what organizers bill as the state's largest New Year's Eve fireworks show.
And now Circles owner Vic Granowicz has organized what he says will be an even bigger show for this New Year's Eve.
With the help of sponsors, Granowicz devoted $27,500 to the 2013 show. This year, sponsors have contributed $35,490. According to Granowicz, he leads the way as a $10,000 sponsor. Tampa Electric is listed as a premier sponsor at $5,000 and All Steel Buildings, Century 21-Beggins Enterprises, Curry Law Group and Tampa General Hospital have come in as $2,000 platinum sponsors.
"This show was originally thought of as a 'thank-you' to the community from the sponsors who funded it," Granowicz said. "Last year, we never imagined in a million years that we would ever get the kind of support from the business community that we ended up receiving."
Equally surprising to Granowicz was the positive reaction he received from residents, who loved the show.
This year's display will be choreographed to music and begin promptly at midnight, ringing in Jan. 1. Pyrotecnico, known for productions for the Bucs, Yankees and the city of New Orleans, will produce the show.
All the sites for watching the show will be back in play. It will be viewable from all 5,800 homes in Apollo Beach, as far south as Sun City Center and as far north as Riverview. However, the Coast Guard and the Marine Patrol are expected to shut down Bal Harbor from boat access approximately two hours before the show and for 30 minutes after the show. Lands End Marina still has open transient slips available for boats. Call (813) 645-5594 to reserve a slip.
Circles will host a large-scale outdoor party from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. that is free, and will feature a VIP adult area from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for $125 that includes private patio seating, free champagne up until the show and a gourmet buffet.