Tonawanda News

October 24, 2013

KEPPELER: Put your time where your mouth is

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The sad little note was first posted Monday night on Facebook.

“It doesn’t look like the ball drop and events are going to happen,” said the post on the Gateway Harbor Ball Drop page. “Due to lack of sponsors and help. Sad night! What do you think?”

I kept an eye on it. Half an hour later, there was no response. This soon followed: “Sad night. It’s over!”

The next morning, I confirmed the news with Debbie Darling and Rick Maier of 4DNT, the organization that ran the ball drop. In an age of dwindling sponsorship funds, it’s become more and more difficult to come up with the money to pay for the event, both said. However, even if someone came through today with every cent needed, pulling the event off would still be nigh impossible — because of the sheer lack of people able to put the hours needed into its planning.

When the event started in 2008, there were dozens of people on the committee, Maier said. Monday night, an emergency meeting of the committee drew ... five. That’s simply not enough to do all the work and planning that goes into a event that drew thousands of people in its latest (and apparently last) incarnation.

Maier described the hours of work, knocking on doors, making telephone calls, coordinating events, that went into the ball drop and its associated events. Spread out over many people, it was doable. Loaded onto five or six ... not so much.

“I hate to see the community lose anything like this,” he said. “It’s terrible, especially with all the work we’ve put into it. People don’t understand. We start meeting in August and carry on up until ball drop.” 

Of course, after the original posting on Facebook had been up for a while, people started chiming in. Some mourned. Some offered help. Some just complained. And the same thing happened on the Tonawanda News Facebook page. 

I have a few things to ask the complainers.

 OK, you enjoyed the ball drop? You want good things in the area? Did you volunteer the past five years? Were you there Monday night? No?

Then put your time where your mouth is.

Look, I’m not taking aim at those who have been part of the committee and had to drop out for one reason or another. Life happens. Family commitments escalate, work gets more complicated, health issues creep in. At some point, you need to take a step back and concentrate on other things. 

I liked the ball drop, with its quirky timing and its unspoken assertion that the Tonawandas could be a New Year’s Eve destination. My kids loved the Fun Zone events. I had mused over offering my own services as a volunteer, only to come to the conclusion that I’m already spread far too thin to do it any sort of justice. I can’t blame those who’ve concluded the same.

But while I’m regretful about its loss, I’m not complaining about the decision of those few and faithful who realized they just can’t do it alone anymore. Rather, I find it far too understandable.

People like fun stuff; this should come as no surprise. But too many like it just presented to them as a done deal: You show up, you pay your fee, you have fun, you don’t think about the hours of work that went into the organization and planning of said fun.

Maybe you should.

It’s too late for the ball drop. But help is always needed. I’m sure it wouldn’t take much to find an organization that could use it.

Stop complaining about how nothing fun ever lasts around here and, just maybe, do something to keep it going.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.