Tonawanda News — Despite concerns about the future of the Gateway Harbor New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in the Twin Cities — so much so that organizers actually declared the ball drop canceled in October — the event is back on and plans are coming into focus for Tuesday’s festivities.
4DNT, the organization that has run the event since 2008, is partnering this year with the Rotary Club of the Tonawandas to present the ball drop and its associated festivities. While there are changes and a general scaling-back, Debbie Darling, vice president of 4DNT, said most events are going forward as usual.
One big change is that the huge, lit-up ball dropped to mark the cusp of the new year will descend from the aerial ladder of a City of Tonawanda fire truck, extended to about 100 feet in the air, instead of from the building at the corner of Webster and Sweeney streets.
Fire Chief Charles Stuart said the truck will be located on Young Street in the city, with the ball descending into the intersection of Main and Young streets. (The North Tonawanda Fire Department will be on standby in the case of any emergency during that period of time, he said.)
Although initial hopes were to have the ball drop on the Renaissance Bridge, visible from both sides of the canal, the fireworks set up at the center of the bridge mean that that firefighters would not have time to retract the ladder and move away from the fireworks if they’re to go off at the stroke of midnight, Stuart said.
In other changes, there will no concert or big tent on Sweeney Street this year, Darling said, but a disc jockey will perform from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Webster Street in North Tonawanda. The scavenger hunt at local businesses was also a casualty of the event’s issues with adequate manpower.