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Two area bars open all night New Year’s Eve to ring in 2014

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The celebration won’t stop until the first dawn of 2014 at two regional bars tonight.

Clueless Nightclub, 545 Arsenal St., Watertown, and Maxfield’s, 5 Market St., Potsdam, have both received special permits to remain open on New Year’s Eve until 8 a.m., instead of the 3 a.m. closing time usually mandated by law.

Bars must apply to the New York State Liquor Authority for the permit.

New Year’s Eve celebrations that last all night are a longtime tradition at Maxfield’s, according to owner Lawrence J. Hazen.

“Midnight comes and then, all of a sudden, it’s 2 o’clock and everybody’s not quite done celebrating,” he said.

Clueless’s owner, Robert F. Vest Jr., said it is unusual to be the only Jefferson County bar open all night. Four were open last year.

“That came as a surprise to me, but that’s how it turned out,” he said. “I think this is the first time that we’ve been the only bar in the county that got an all-night permit.”

He does not know why he is without competition for the party-until-dawn crowd this year, he said.

Watertown Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham’s Pearl Street Pub, 557 Pearl St., Watertown, was open last year, but Mr. Graham decided to stay closed this time in order to focus on his swearing-in ceremony Jan. 1, he said in a blog post at http://mayorgraham.blogspot.com.

“Frankly, New Year’s is not the big bar holiday the media portrays it,” he said in the post. “Most people either celebrate quietly, go to a house party or realize it’s really just another Tuesday night.”

Mr. Vest said New Year’s Eve is a big night for Clueless, and it takes plenty of work to make sure it all goes off without a hitch. His staff makes sure everything goes smoothly and the party does not get out of hand until the bar finally closes at 8 a.m., he said.

“It’s not for the faint of heart, but we make it work,” he said.

Maxfield’s makes similar preparations, but doing so has largely become second nature over the years, Mr. Hazen said.

“We’ve been doing it for a long time, so it doesn’t take too much, really,” he said.

The restaurant is offering special dinner packages, then kicking off the party with live music from local band Double Axel at 10 p.m.

Double Axel has played at the bar every New Year’s Eve for years, according to Mr. Hazen. The cover band was founded in Potsdam in 1971.

“They’ll be playing until we’re all ready to go home,” Mr. Hazen said. Maxfield’s will stay open until 8 a.m. or until the crowd wanders off. He said the crowds tend to thin out between 3 and 4 a.m.

“That’s all night to most people,” he said.

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