GTPulse: Ring In The New Year Downtown Traverse City
When did we start dropping things to signify a new year? It’s a strange tradition and Traverse City isn’t immune to the quirky charm of celebrating a fresh new year by dropping a large, glittery object. This year marks 10 years since downtown Traverse City has started using a 600-pound cherry to spark hope, kissing, excitement and a chance to start over in the new year.
New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. Free from political or religious connotation, New Year’s Eve is truly a holiday for everyone, and I’ve always been a fan of starting over. When I was growing up my family would watch the ball drop broadcasted from Times Square in New York City. The snacks and bit of champagne my mom allowed me and my siblings to drink felt sophisticated and very adult. As I got older I spent less of the holiday with my family and drank more champagne with my friends, but I’d still make a point to watch the New York City ball drop no matter what bar or house we were at. This year I’ll spend my first New Year’s Eve in Traverse City and I won’t need to quickly dig for someone’s remote five minutes until midnight.
There’s no real, old-world tradition to dropping a ball for New Year’s Eve. The tradition started in New York City at Times Square in 1907 when a young metalworker was hired to create a ball to slide down a flagpole. People began celebrating the new year by counting down until midnight in 1904 and wanted a visual for the transition. The 700-pound iron and wood ball had 100, 25-watt light bulbs on it. Although the ball has changed throughout its years, the tradition has not.
The CherryT Ball Drop has been going on for 10 years and was started by members of the community. The National Cherry Festival has taken over the event, with last year being their first. Bad weather caused a cancellation so this year is technically their first event, and Special Programs Director Bailey Judson talked to me about the event.
Cass and Park will be closed off tomorrow at four p.m. to prepare for the event. This year’s cherry has been freshly re-strung with lights and Team Elmers will be responsible for lowering it at midnight.
“It’s really a party for a purpose,” Bailey said. “This year we’re asking for $3 donations and all of the proceeds are going to Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan.”
An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people will show up for the event, with the first 2400 receiving an LED bracelet from Traverse City Tourism. The gates will open at 10 p.m. and parking more than likely be a nightmare. If you can walk, Uber or carpool you should do so.
There won’t be live music or vendors, but because the event will be held right downtown there are plenty of opportunities to eat, drink and be merry beforehand and after however the event is fun for party goers and families alike.
The amount of people that come to the event depends, of course, on the weather. I’ll happily freeze for at least an hour before complaining on my favorite holiday. If you have a little kid, I’m sure they don’t care about watching a cherry drop as much as they care about being warm and in bed, so, to each their own. But, if you do find yourself home on New Year’s Eve, you don’t have to miss out on the fun. The CherryT Drop will be broadcasted live on the event’s Facebook page.
I see a split in reactions to New Year’s as a holiday and as a celebration. People think trying to start over can be gimmicky or pointless, but I never think it’s pointless to try to improve ourselves and our lives. We can start new habits at any point in the year, and we don’t need to watch a lit-up ball or cherry to do it, but sometimes it’s nice to feel connected to those around us. It’s nice to let out a collective sigh of being done with another year and sharing in the hope that the new challenges in the new year will be handled with optimism and grace. Whether you have a CVS-receipt length list of resolutions or none, throw out the problems of 2019 and welcome in a sparkly new decade tomorrow night at the CherryT Drop.