BERLIN – The first-ever Berlin New Year’s Eve Celebration drew a crowd three times larger than anticipated last weekend.
“I’m very, very pleased with the turnout,” said Mayor Gee Williams, who speculated that more than 1,000 people were on hand to watch the ball drop at midnight. “It’s just a very positive, uplifting way to start the New Year.”
Barb Stack, a director with the town’s Chamber of Commerce who spearheaded the celebration, also marveled at the size of the crowd.
“We didn’t expect as many people to show up,” she said.
According to Stack, revelers started trickling in around 8 p.m. for carriage rides and just kept coming until the center of Berlin was packed shoulder to shoulder.
“The carriage rides were very popular,” agreed Williams.
Like Stack, he perceived a steady influx of people over the course of the night. “The crowd built nice and gradually, like a rising tide,” Williams said.
Having to cater to an audience of more than 1,000 instead of the several hundred expected put a lot of pressure on the Atlantic Hotel and The Globe, but management at both establishments seemed to enjoy every minute of it/
“It went wonderful,” said Atlantic Hotel Manager Leisa Stellman.
In addition to providing a restaurant and multiple bars to the public, the hotel also hosted a private soirée for about 50 patrons.
The Globe General Manager and co-owner Jennifer Dawicki David, who estimated the crowds to be close to 2,000, was thrilled with the new event.
“It was packed,” she said.
She pointed out that Berlin was designed perfectly for events like the ball drop, saying the town was, “set up so well; it’s a comfortable cozy nook.”
David added that the atmosphere of Berlin makes, “people want to participate in events.”
By all accounts, despite the surprisingly large number of spectators, the entire event went off, more or less, as smoothly as it could.
“The ball drop went off without a hitch,” said Williams, adding that the electric department had practiced the drop several times to make sure the New Year started on time.
When questioned about any problems that will need to be addressed next year, Williams stated that there were “no incidents” and that, besides a little tweaking, not much about the event needed changing.
“We don’t have to try and reinvent the wheel next year,” he said.
Stack seconded the statement, mentioning only some litter issues, which were not too surprising given the size of the crowd.
“We’ll take a look at the trash situation,” said Stack, who admitted to being disappointed by the number of people who left bottles and cans lying in the street. However, Stack was impressed by the town’s response the next morning.
“A lot of locals pitched in afterwards to help clean up,” she said, adding that it was “just a matter of getting enough trash receptacles in the right place” come next New Year’s Eve.
David agreed, saying, “The town of Berlin did a great job of cleaning up.”
Stellman wasn’t overly worried about the amount of trash, either.
“If you put a thousand people in a small space, there’s going to be litter everywhere,” she said.
With several pros and few cons, both David and Stellman readily admitted to endorsing the event for next year and the years to come.
“We’re looking forward to it next year,” said Stellman.
Williams felt the same, saying that the “basic elements” were already in place for next year. He did bring up the possibility of an earlier 6 p.m. ball drop for those who don’t wish to stay out all night. The drop would coincide with midnight in Berlin, Germany and be more accessible to children and families who wish to be in bed before the next morning.
Stack confirmed that a secondary ball drop could happen, but that no solid plans for next year have been ironed out yet.
“We might do things a little different next year, but right now it’s too early to tell,” Stack said.