Big Rapids to host ball drop event for second year

BIG RAPIDS — For the second time, Big Rapids will ring in the new year with a ball drop event and organizers have their sights set on topping last year’s celebration.

Festivities will begin around 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Big Rapids Elks Lodge, 203 E. Pine St. Michigan Avenue between Pine and Hemlock streets will be blocked off for the ball drop, which is sponsored by members of the Big Rapids Elks Lodge.

Phil Currie, one of the event’s organizers, said the celebration will be family-friendly and have a variety of activites.

“It’s something for the family to do and instead of just sitting inside,” Currie said. “It’s something different. We had 200 to 300 people year and we hope to make it even better this year.”

One major way this New Year’s Eve will be better is some changes to the main event. The ball will drop from more than 55 feet in the air, which is three times as high as last year, Currie said.

“Joe Harley Tree Service is making that possible by bringing in a boom truck,” he said. “We’ll be counting down and a sign will light up that says 2015 after the ball reaches the ground.”

Other planned activities include music, games and a light show. Isabella Bank is donating hot chocolate and cider for families and the Elks will be open to offer beverages, Currie said.

Mark Solis, who also is organizing the event, is looking forward to growing the event each year and attracting more people.

“We’d love to have twice as many attendees,” Solis said. “It’s a free, fun night for people of all ages. Everyone is invited.”

Anybody who has suggestions for more activities or would like to contribute something to the event can contact Solis.

“We’re very excited and downtown Big Rapids is going to be rocking,” he said. “We’d love to hear from people who want to help or have ideas how to make this the best it can be.”

While some people may be content sitting at home to watch the ball drop on television, Currie said the real deal is going to be a much better time.

“I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to come,” he said. “Do you want to watch football on TV or live and be in the stands? Of course you want to be part of it, so come out and be part of bringing in the new year in Big Rapids.”