Make It An Event
By Jody Reese
Next weekend, Manchester will do little to promote itself on New Yearís Eve.
Yes, the Monarchs will stage their now-traditional indoor pyrotechnic display following the game at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Itís a fun event, but itís over long before midnight.
By the time clocks actually strike 12, most of the crowd has gone home. Downtown is quiet. Absent other options, most of Manchester seems to ring in the New Year by watching TV, if at all.
It doesnít have to be that way. If given a reason to get out and cheer the arrival of 2005, a lot of folks will.
Iím not thinking of an elaborate First Night-style marathon of cultural events. Rather, Iím thinking of one special event at midnight that would be bring people downtown on New Yearís Eve.
It could be a concert. It could be a road race. It could be fireworks. It could be something imaginative, like a local car dealer donating an example of last yearís model and raffling off swings of a sledgehammer at it for charity. Anything to mark the passing of the year in a way that would give people a reason to come downtown and celebrate.
Other cities show what can be done. About seven years ago, Keene cancelled its own version of First Night due to financial problems and volunteer burnout. In its place, a few folks created something much simpler.
At Central Square, in the heart of Keeneís downtown, they built a plywood replica of the New York City skyline. Then, they fashioned a homemade version of the famous lighted ball that drops in Times Square Ė in this case, one made of automobile headlights welded together in a cluster Ė and hung it from a 120-foot crane.
When midnight came, they reenacted a local version of the Big Appleís celebration, with the headlights being turned on hi-beam at the stroke of 12. As simple and perhaps corny as the idea was, a crowd turned out to see it. So they did it the next year, and an even larger crowd showed.
Now itís an annual event. Itís expanded a bit, but itís stayed simple and community-oriented.
Organizers say itís a chance for people to celebrate the occasion in a fun way together, rather than in front of the tube. And that it is.
Canít Manchesterís business and arts community organize something similar? Why should Times Square have all the fun? Or Keene, for that matter?
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