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Alex Bright and Christie Irons, from left, enjoy a ride during a Chattanooga Autism Center outing to Lake Winnie Amusement Park. The center's New Year's Eve event at The Granfalloon raises funds for similar outings. / Contributed photo by Celeste Lipps

Loud noises, crowds and confetti are typically hallmarks of a New Year's Eve celebration, but combining those elements doesn't always equal a good time for party-goers with special needs.

Anyone in the special needs community is welcome to kick off 2020 with a sensory-friendly mock New Year's Eve countdown at The Granfalloon Tuesday, Dec. 31 from 6-8 p.m.

Following that event, the venue is hosting a more traditional New Year's celebration from 9 p.m. to midnight. The 1920s-themed party benefits the Chattanooga Autism Center and is limited to those age 21 and older. Attendees are invited to wear Gatsby and gangster attire fitting the "Jazz Age" theme. The party features a DJ, cash bar, hors d'oeuvres, a photo booth and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.

The earlier, sensory-friendly event will also have a DJ, though the music will be softer and the crowd smaller. There's no dress code, and there will be light snacks and sparkling wine, said Chattanooga Autism Center parent volunteer Celeste Lipps.

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Celeste Lipps enjoys a day at Lake Winnie with son Gabe on a Chattanooga Autism Center group outing. The center's New Year's Eve event at The Granfalloon raises funds for similar outings. / Contributed photo by Celeste Lipps

"For a lot of kids who want to ring in the new year, it's a little too overwhelming," she said. "This is something a little friendlier to people with sensory needs."

The East Ridge resident said this is the first time the Chattanooga Autism Center has hosted a New Year's celebration, and the organizers hope to make both the sensory-friendly countdown and the more traditional party annual events.

Tickets for the adult fundraiser are $40 a person or $75 per couple. Proceeds will go toward the autism center's group outings to places such as Lake Winnie Amusement Park.

The sensory-friendly countdown is $10 per person to cover costs.

Tickets for the fundraiser are available here, and for the countdown here. If tickets are still available for either event the day of, they will be sold at the door.

The Granfalloon is at 400 E. Main St. For questions about the event, contact Lipps at celeste@chattanoogaautismcenter.org.

Email Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com.

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