Georgetown to have a ball on New Year’s Eve

Flanked by Glass Onion’s Dale Teat, left, Georgetown Mayor Bill West sings “Soul Man” with the band during last year’s New Year’s Eve celebration on The Circle in Georgetown. Glass Onion will return for this year’s celebration. (Delaware State News file photo/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN — Georgetown is gearing up for its fifth “Raise the Ball” New Year’s Eve celebration on The Circle.

“We offer a safe place to enjoy New Year’s Eve with all of our friends and family, and those from all over the county and even the state who like to come down and be with us and have a chance for us all to get together,” said Georgetown councilwoman Chris Lecates.

Popular Delmarva band Glass Onion returns to provide the musical backdrop for the celebration, which runs from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. or perhaps 1 a.m., depending on how the evening goes.

A large, heated tent and three bonfire pits provide warmth if there’s a nip in the air.

A photo booth offers unlimited Kodak moment keepsakes. “It makes for a nice memory,” said Ms. Lecates. “I know I have mine on the refrigerator from each year. It’s kind of neat to look back.”

And it’s all free, except for vendor food and beverages (for those of legal drinking age) that will be available for purchase.

“It’s a good family event. The kids enjoy the photo booth, walking around and being with their friends,” said Georgetown Mayor Bill West. “It’s been really nice. We have our police security walking around. I don’t think we’ve had a moment of trouble since we started it.”

The highlight arrives just before midnight with the countdown to 2019. A large crane that is part of the town’s public works fleet will slowly raise the digital LED ball into position, ushering in the New Year.

The 6-foot ball features approximately 1,200 lights and three flashing LED signs.

“The guys in the public works department, they do a fabulous job putting that together and pulling that off. It is huge. They made it themselves. They are proud of this,” said Ms. Lecates.

Georgetown will hold its fifth “Raise the Ball” New Year’s Eve celebration on The Circle starting at 9 p.m. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

Unlike Times Square in New York City where the ball drops, the ball is raised on The Circle in Georgetown, Delaware. “We raise it 65 feet in air,” said Mayor West.

“We’re unique,” said Ms. Lecates.

This will mark Glass Onion’s third consecutive New Year’s Eve on The Circle appearance.

“They are a very good dance band,” said Mayor West.

Revelers just might get to hear the mayor join the band on stage, offering his vocals to “Soul Man.”

“I think he actually sings that in his sleep,” said Ms. Lecates.

Mayor West casts kudos to the town’s public works crew for the behind-the-scenes effort.

“We’ve got our game plan,” said Mayor West. “Our maintenance boys are super. They’ve got it down to a science now. They know exactly what they’ve got to do to prepare for the evening.”

Georgetown’s New Year’s Eve celebration grew out of the town’s successful summer concert series.

“We shuffled this around among the concert committee and found out a lot people didn’t have anything to do on New Year’s Eve because they didn’t want to go far,” said Mayor West. “I knew Berlin (Maryland) usually does something, and I had two or three people tell me that we needed to do something like Berlin does. They have a street dance and ring in the New Year. I thought we should do that and put it right up on The Circle. That is more or less how it got started.”

“Our concerts during the summer were so well received,” Ms. Lecates said. “People were just so excited about this and that it costs you nothing. You can just come out and enjoy yourself.”

Obviously, the outdoor event is at the mercy of late-December weather.

Last year, several hundred revelers braved single-digit temperatures and frigid wind chill to bid farewell to 2017 and welcome 2018. The previous year it was a much different scenario in semi-balmy weather as The Circle area was jam-packed with people to usher in 2017.

“Last year, we had 200 people. The year before 1,200 people,” said Mayor West.

“We do try to provide for the elements because some years it has been very cold,” said Ms. Lecates.

A major snow or ice event could throw a wrench in the works. “If we see the likelihood of snow or inclement weather that is really severe, we’ll probably cancel,” said Mayor West.

If it’s merely cold with no snow, the show is a go.

“It can be 6 degrees this year, and my butt will be out there,” Mayor West said.

The hope of organizers is for a huge turnout.

“We have got competition this year,” said Mayor West. “Mulligan’s Pointe is doing a New Year’s event. So, we’ll see what happens this year and decide where we want to go for the future.”

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