By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(Jan. 11, 2024) While the crowds were large for the 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve ball drop in Berlin, they petered out for the midnight event, leaving the mayor and council to decide to drop the ball drop at midnight from New Year’s Eve 2024 events.
There were about 200 people at the midnight event, reported Council Member Jay Knerr, who said he expected closer to 1,000 attendees.
The 6 p.m. family event was scheduled to coincide with new year’s in Berlin, Germany.
“The kid’s ball drop was wonderful and it has grown. This year, it was the busiest it has ever been. A lot of locals, even without kids, were there. Businesses were busy, families did shopping and dinner before and after,” Ivy Wells, the director for economic and community development, said.
“Restaurants were doing amazing until about 8 p.m. That was when the crowd died down.”
Some of the bars, such as Sisters, were not open for New Year’s Eve. Others, such as Burley Oak and the Globe hosted their own events and were crowded all night.
Town officials estimate that staffing the two events costs about $6,000, suggesting that cutting back to just one ball drop would cut the bill roughly in half.
“This is one of the more expensive events given the overtime costs and length of events,” Mayor Zack Tyndall said. Town employees start working at noon and many don’t leave until after midnight.
“The humanity of it is a little tough,” Council member Steve Green remarked about the long hours for town employees.
Other towns also saw a decrease of about 50 percent in attendance, Wells said.
“There is a lot of competition on New Year’s Eve,” Council Member Jack Orris said.
Wells suggested the 6 p.m. ball drop be rebranded for next year to make it welcoming for all.