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Bill Gaither offers different way to ring in the new year

DULUTH -- There are many ways to spend your New Year's Eve that don't include cocktails, masks or designated drivers. One of those events is gospel singer Bill Gaither's New Year's Eve Homecoming at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Saturday. He and the Vocal Band, featuring Mark Lowry, David Phelps, Michael English and Wes Hampton, will sing in the new year with songs of praise and worship.

"It's a wonderful alternative to celebrate New Year's Eve with music and fun until midnight," Gaither said. "The whole show will last five hours."

Gaither isn't the only one performing -- he's bringing 10 other acts for a variety show. The list of the performers include Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, The Martins, The Isaacs, TaRanda Greene, Gene McDonald, Gordon Mote, Karen Peck & New River, Lynda Randle, Greg Ritchie and Kevin Williams.

Plus, there will be comedy portion of the five-hour act because Gaither thinks it's important to raise people's spirits.

"The comedy act is part of what we've done for years at our shows," he said. "I think laughter is the best kind of medicine."

In past events, Gaither and his crew have put together many surprises for attendees, ranging from balloon drops to fireworks at midnight. This year's surprise will remain a secret until the show.

No matter what, Gaither wants people to come together to celebrate the new year, no matter the circumstances.

"The holidays can be a very sad and lonely time for some, yet very exciting and festive for others," he said. "Regardless, it's a time that should be spent among friends, and what better way to spend it than with thousands of people, enjoying great music, ringing in the new year."

The message Gaither would like to spread at his show is that of hope and possibilities.

"Times are tough, but this is a great, positive way to start out the new year," he said.

Doors open at 6 p.m.