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.