Preparing for midnight

COUNTDOWN READY: Ferris welding professor Dave Murray (left) and Big Rapids resident Phil Currie discuss the design of Big Rapids’ own New Year’s Eve ball. The ball will be dropped from the flagpole in front of Chemical Bank in downtown Big Rapids on New Year’s Eve. The event is free and open to the public. (Pioneer photo/Whitney Gronski-Buffa)

COUNTDOWN READY: Ferris welding professor Dave Murray (left) and Big Rapids resident Phil Currie discuss the design of Big Rapids’ own New Year’s Eve ball. The ball will be dropped from the flagpole in front of Chemical Bank in downtown Big Rapids on New Year’s Eve. The event is free and open to the public. (Pioneer photo/Whitney Gronski-Buffa)

BIG RAPIDS — When the clock strikes midnight and the new year begins, Big Rapids and New York City will have more in common than one might imagine.

Downtown Big Rapids will host its own New Year’s Eve ball drop this year, with festivities beginning at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31 on the 100 block of North Michigan Avenue. In the hours leading up to the new year, some downtown businesses will be open, and the Elks Lodge will offer hot cocoa, snacks and children’s entertainment. Local DJ Bill Beckwith will be on site to play music throughout the evening and emcee the final countdown. At midnight, a giant ball will be dropped from the flag pole in front of Chemical Bank and fireworks will be launched.

There is no cost to attend the ball drop party, and Big Rapids resident Phil Currie hopes this year’s event will inspire bigger things by the time 2014 comes to a close.

“If it all goes well this year, we might do more next year,” Currie said. “Maybe we’ll put up tents in the streets and everything.”

The idea to bring a New Year’s celebration to the streets of Big Rapids came to Currie

after he attended a similar celebration in Ludington last year. A trend that is becoming more common in smaller communities, Grand Rapids, Ludington, Midland and Traverse City all boast downtown New Year’s Eve parties of their own.

After discussing the concept with a couple of friends in October, Currie asked Ferris State University welding professor Dave Murray if his students could create a ball to be dropped from a flag pole. Welding manufacturing junior Lucas Johnson completed the project as finals week wrapped up, Murray said.

At about 10 feet wide and 8 feet tall, the finished New Year’s Eve ball is made of lightweight aluminum bars wrapped with twinkle lights. The ball is designed to be opened and closed around the flag pole, and it will be raised and lowered with a pulley system, Murray said.

“This has never been done before in this town, so what you see this year won’t be the same as it might be next year,” Murray said. “We just hope it works and everyone has a good time.”

 

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