More than six weeks are left until the end of 2008.
But the past weekend felt like New Year's across York County, where bars and restaurants were allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays for the first time.
At T-Bones on the Lake, more than 120 patrons lifted champagne glasses when the restaurant's owners and managers led them late Saturday in a midnight countdown to the start of alcohol sales.
“It's like a new reopening for us on Sunday,” manager Aaron Samole said.
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Hours later, many returned to the restaurant for its Bloody Mary Bar, a tradition previously reserved for Saturdays. Dozens more filled a bar room to watch the Carolina Panthers and other football games.
At one point in the afternoon, server Jennifer Hewitt said every table she passed at the restaurant had an alcohol beverage on it.
“It's a great change,” said Hewitt, who requested an earlier shift to meet the crowds. “It's really exciting.”
Rock Hill and Tega Cay already allowed Sunday alcohol sales. But earlier this month, voters overwhelmingly agreed to let all restaurants and bars in the county serve alcohol.
T-Bones owner Dave Mathein led efforts to put the alcohol referendum on the fall ballot. A sign outside the restaurant alerts passersby that T-Bones was the first business to sign up for a permit under the new rules.
Some York leaders have predicted Sunday alcohol sales will boost business at York County restaurants by 12percent, adding about $1.5 million in revenue for them.
Amy Bovender, managing partner of The Six Pence Pub at Baxter Village, estimated her business had three times its usual Sunday customers, more than she had expected. She planned to keep the pub open at least two hours later than usual.
Also extending its hours was Christopher's Grill & Bar in Lake Wylie, which stayed open until 9 p.m. It used to close at 3 p.m.
Bovender said she thinks the large crowds will continue.
“People need a local place to go,” she said. “People in Fort Mill have been wanting this for a long time, and it's nice to stay close to home and not drive to Charlotte or Rock Hill.”
Chris Eubanks, who lives near T-Bones, said he used to drive to Lake Wylie Junction just across the N.C. state line on Sundays, but now he can walk from his home to the bar. “It's great for the economy, because you keep (business) here in the state of South Carolina,” he said.
Many York County residents had pushed for years to get Sunday alcohol sales.
Don Schutz said he thinks this year's effort was helped, in part, because of a shift in the demographics in York County. A lot of newcomers to the area were used to being able to buy alcohol in their previous cities, he said.
Schutz and friends crowded around a table at T-Bones to watch the Panthers game.
Cindy Decker said she was looking forward especially to the spring and summer. Before, she said, she'd want to go to restaurants on Sundays for lunch or brunch but would have to leave the lake and drive to other places if she wanted alcohol with her meal.
Not anymore, she said.
Others said Sunday alcohol sales could lure bigger restaurants to York County.
“It'll turn Lake Wylie into more of a destination, especially on the weekends,” T-Bones manager Samole said.