Tonawanda News — After five years of counting down at Gateway Harbor, the New Year's Eve ball drop will now be a thing of the past.
Debbie Darling, vice president of event organizers 4DNT, confirmed the news Tuesday morning.
"There are many factors that have gone into it, but primarily it's a lack of funding and lack of volunteers," she said. "It was five years of great success and was building with real momentum ... but rather than try to do it with a skeleton crew ... we decided it was best we don't continue on with it.
"I feel bad for the community. That's why we did it. Unfortunately, we're just not going to be able to do it this year."
The New Year's Eve ball drop, which started in 2008, included such features as music, food, a pub crawl, a merchant scavenger hunt, fireworks and the notoriously quirky ball drop itself. Its often-untimely descent even led to the motto, "It Ain’t New Years Until We Say It Is.” The crowds have grown every year, from hundreds to thousands. But committee participation hasn't.
4DNT president Rick Maier said the group had an emergency meeting Monday night. Only five people showed up, he said.
"No manpower, no money. It's a shame," Maier said. "It was something we got going and we kind of hoped we could pass it on to someone else. But apparently nobody wants to take it. Very, very, very frustrating."
With the growing difficulty in getting sponsorship money, the group doesn't have enough to cover its insurance, he said. "People think that when the ball comes down, how much can it cost?"
Darling said that while most of the sponsors that have backed the event for years have been "very kind," others have been unavailable this year, and even without that issue, the manpower just isn't there to keep things going. Several key members — some of those who have contributed the most time and effort — have had to drop out, she said.