December 29, 2010
Ball up as New Year’s celebration closes in
CORTLAND — John Scanlon spent a few hours atop his downtown clock tower building on Tuesday afternoon, working to suspend the illuminated New Year’s ball from a crane.
Around 3 p.m., he was done, and the ball had an orange glow, hanging from what he called a “giant fishing pole.”
“It’s good to have the ball back,” Scanlon said. “I hope it’s a good event for the general public. It’s a great community event.”
After being eliminated last year, the First Night ceremony is back, with both the ball drop and a new fireworks display.
The street festival will take place from about 10 p.m. until 1 a.m., but there will be different bar and dining specials throughout the night, said Adam Megivern, executive director of the Cortland Downtown Partnership.
“There was definitely a longing from the community for the event to come back,” Megivern said.
Created as a way to ring in the new millennium and the city’s centennial at the start of 2000, the First Night celebration was cut last year after the city Common Council decided against paying extra overtime to city employees. The event cost $2,500 in police overtime in 2008.
This year’s event will rely on police officers already out on patrol, which will help avoid overtime costs.
The ball was dropped from the Squires Building, which stood where Scanlon’s building does now, for the first six years. After the building burned down in 2006, the ball was dropped the next three years from the Cortland Standard building.
Megivern said he was looking forward to the fireworks display, which will be launched from the Youth Bureau parking lot. The fireworks should last between 10 and 15 minutes, Megivern said.
“For people downtown, it’s going to be a much better view,” Megivern said.
The owners of Coffee Mania, Michelle and Craig Brooks, paid for the fireworks display, which is typically the most expensive part of the First Night celebration.
Other local organizations also contributed to the return of First Night.
Scanlon installed the ball; the city provided the Youth Bureau’s Showmobile, a stage on wheels; and downtown business owner Tony Caruso will provide music for the event.
At 6 p.m. the police will close off Main Street between its intersections with West Court Street and Port Watson and Tompkins streets, said Lt. David Guerrera, who directs the Cortland Police Department’s road patrol.
Around 11:30 p.m., police will close a portion of Tompkins and Port Watson streets adjacent to Main Street to allow spectators to watch the ball drop. Tompkins Street will be closed to the Owego Street intersection and Port Watson Street to the Church Street intersection.
The Youth Bureau parking lot will also be closed on New Year’s Eve.
The Port Watson Street parking lot across from the Youth Bureau will also be roped off just before the ball drop, Guerrera said.
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