OWOSSO — New Year’s Eve in downtown Owosso is shaping up to be a ball.
This year, the city will ring in 2018 with a ball drop and block party — including live music, food and drink specials, a photo booth, warming stations and “a few surprises” organizers hope will draw thousands to the area to celebrate with each other. The event is free.
“On a personal level, when we first considered the idea, I thought, ‘Wow, what a cool thing, to take note of what has happened this year, how much we’ve grown, and the friendships we’ve made, all outside, in the open,’” said Tracey Peltier, one of the organizers.
“On the other hand, I think it really lends itself to our hope that Owosso will be a destination — we’ll have shopping, we’ll have food, we’ll have community, everything we want to broadcast to the world. It’ll be a great time,” she added.
Neil Sutton of Durand will build the ball. His business, Neil Sutton’s Custom Iron Works, has been selling items at the Downtown Owosso Farmers Market for the past two or three years, he said — mostly Christmas ornaments and small sculptures for people’s gardens.
He said while this is the first New Year’s Eve ball he has built, he is not intimidated.
“We’ve done bigger projects than this, but the level of ornateness involved, working with circles instead of squares, is something I haven’t done yet. I’m excited to give it a shot and try it out,” said Sutton. “I think it’ll go together really well.”
Sutton said the ball will be built from 21 individual, 6-foot circles of steel, which will be symmetrically spaced on one axis and tilted 30 degrees to resemble a globe. It will be adorned with LED lights and will weigh about 250 pounds when it’s finished.
“This is going to last for years and years to come. I hope someone has lots of space to store it in when the event is over,” Sutton added.
The ball may be suspended from a cable on a 100-foot tower provided by the Owosso Fire Department near the corner of Jerome and Washington streets in downtown Owosso, Peltier said. They also are considering using a crane.
As is the case with other ball drops, like the famous one in New York City’s Times Square, the ball will slowly descend beginning at 11:59 p.m. and finish at midnight to signal the start of the new year.
The ball drop will be preceded by hours of fun for partygoers and families alike, Peltier said. At least four nearby restaurants — Lula’s Louisiana Cookhouse, Jumbo’s Burger Bar, Roma’s Back Door and Venue at 219/Capitol’s Grille — will be offering food and drink specials throughout the night. The latter three businesses will have outdoor seating with warming stations available.
“It’ll be an experience like we’ve never had before, as far as being able to drink outside and having more than just one business do it,” Peltier said. “But we want to be family-friendly as well, so there will not be public drinking. The event will be very safe.”
Organizers are talking about booking family entertainment and live music at other nearby venues, including The Bagelman and Foster Coffee Company, but those plans haven’t been firmed up yet.
Peltier credited Foster Coffee owner Jon Moore for coming up with the idea. Moore said he based it on a similar event in Ludington.
“I’ve been there a couple of times and I love it,” Moore said. “I know it’s a big tourist destination already, but why can’t Owosso be that way, too? We’ve pulled off big, successful winter events like the Glow Owosso event before, so this should work out great too. It’s a little taste of New York in Owosso.
“Some people go out to bars and have to pay an expensive cover charge, some people stay home and some people go out to party. We thought we could meet a lot of needs in one go with this event,” Moore added.
A Facebook page that was recently created for the event already has more than 1,000 people listed as “interested” in going.