Welcome to New Carlisle, Ohio. It’s a New York-style ball drop practically right in our own back yard, yet with a touch of that down-home, small-town local feel. You don’t have to go to New York City to celebrate New Year’s Eve with the excitement of a ball drop and the good times that go along with it.
New Carlisle has been doing a family-friendly ball drop for the past 10 years with crowds of up to 3,000 spectators in attendance. Folks came from all over the surrounding area to kick-off the new year at this year’s free event.
“This is my first time at the ball drop and this is just great,” said Kari McCabe of Huber Heights. “The weather is perfect,” she added. Pam McIntosh, also of Huber Heights, seconded that thought, and added, “This is really a lot fun!”
It was quite a celebration with a live ice sculpture artist performing, free carriage rides, a DJ spinning hot tunes and frozen money in cubes of ice being handed out for free.
The festivities kicked off at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, with many of the downtown Main Street businesses open for the event. “We have opened up every year with large crowds for the ball drop,” said Ally Knight, manager of Penny Lane Art Gallery & Coffee Shop. “We do more business in the two hours on the this night than in a normal full day during the week,” added co-worker David Payne. New coffee shop employees Lydia Jones and Rylee Newcomer were busy with the many customers that were looking forward to the ball drop at midnight.
DJ Tommy Bednarczrk was spinning out the classic rock and country tunes for the bustling crowd. “Yeah, this is my second year as DJ for the event, said Bednarczrk. “The weather is perfect tonight which brings out a bigger crowd,” he added.
The live ice sculpting demonstration was very popular with a large crowd watching as the artist chiseled out works of art with his chain saw from large blocks of ice.
The line was backing up for the free carriage rides down Main Street. “Everyone just loves these carriage rides,” said Robin Oda who has been operating the Arcanum, Ohio “Ro-Da-O Farm Horse Draw Rides” carriage business with her husband David for the past 15 years. The horses were fitted with fake reindeer antlers and the covered carriage was lit up with Christmas lights and decor.
The New Carlisle ball drop originated 10 years ago by the local historical society as a finale event for the New Carlisle bicentennial celebration. “Everyone liked it so well that it has been continued every year since by the Heritage of Flight Festival Committee,” said Mike Lowery, committee chairman.
The 7 1/2-foot ball that drops every year from a crane was actually built by Lowery and his brother and weighs in at 200 pounds.
This year, 150 commemorative wine glasses were given out at the event. Winning numbers were drawn every 15-20 minutes from tickets handed out at the local shops that were open for the event.
Plans to add fireworks to this year’s event had to be cancelled at the last minute due to high winds.
The ball drop draws people from as far away as Lima and Cincinnati with many from Urbana also in attendance for this year’s event.
“One year we had a couple get married at our ball drop. The limo pulled up right in front and the whole wedding party got out for the ceremony,” added Lowery.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.