BERLIN — In Berlin, a big win gets a big party, but it will have to wait a couple weeks.
A celebration was planned for Saturday to honor Berlin being named Budget Travel’s America’s Coolest Small Town. Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t feeling celebratory this weekend, causing the town to move the scheduled America’s Coolest Party from March 26 to April 12.
That decision came late Thursday. While the town had adopted a party on a “rain or shine” mentality for much of the week, the call was made only two days before the event to postpone. Saturday’s forecast is just too negative, according to Tom Sholtis, president of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce.
“Our main concern here is safety and the forecast is calling for lightning and winds, and we can’t risk people’s safety. We want to have a celebration party for 3,000, not 300,” he said.
Given the amount of fanfare Berlin has put into preparing for the party, the expectation is that excitement won’t dip before the new date of Saturday, April 12. The party will feature a parade, music, food and plenty of beer with predictions that the crowd will likely be in the thousands.
“Residents and visitors, friends and families are cordially invited to historic Berlin, where in traditional style, we will ‘shut down Main Street’ in the heart of downtown, known to a growing contingent as the ‘Epicenter of Fun,’” the event’s Facebook invitation reads.
Everything will kick off with a youth parade featuring the Stephen Decatur High School marching band, championship basketball teams, championship track and field stars, Mr. and Mrs. Peach, students from Berlin Intermediate School and Buckingham Elementary School, the All-Star Berlin Little League team, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Coast Kids, the Seaside Dance Academy, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and finally the Berlin Fire Company Cadets.
After the parade, the town invites everyone at the party to just cut loose for a couple of hours.
“We’ve also got kids activities. We’ve got a moon bounce, we’ve got face painting, we’ve got sidewalk and street art thanks to the Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services,” said Sholtis. “We’ve got food vendors. We will have a beer garden with Burley Oak beer.”
Musical acts include The Jon Maurer Band, Bryan Russo and Spare Change. Resident Steve Frene will also be performing his original song, “Cool Berlin,” which served as a theme song for the town during the months of voting leading up to Berlin being named the coolest small town in America.
“[The party] will be hosted by DJ BK and myself, Big Al Reno [radio personalities on Ocean 98.1],” said Sholtis. “It’ll go 1 to 6 p.m. and then at the official after party we will be showing a video from the governor at the Globe.”
The Globe’s after party is still set to begin at 6 p.m. on the day of the event and go late with no official end. During the regular party, streets in town will be closed and the open container policy suspended within certain areas. Local representatives like the Worcester County Commissioners, delegates and state senators are expected to stop by to congratulate the town on earning its distinction.
Anticipation for America’s Coolest Party has been running high ever since Berlin won Budget Travel’s contest last month.
“We hope to have a very large turnout. The streets have been closed, open container has been suspended and it should be a fun day,” said Sholtis.
The event has made a splash on social media, with about 5,000 people invited, nearly 900 of which have confirmed on the page that they will be attending. Sholtis is expecting the final number to resemble the kind of crowd that Berlin brings in every year for its wildly popular New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.
“I would expect every bit of what we had for New Year’s,” he said. “I think New Year’s Eve we had anywhere from 3,500 to 4,000 people.”
To accommodate such a huge crowd, auxiliary parking lots will be set up. Party-goers will be able to park at nearby satellite lots and will then be shuttled downtown for the event starting at 12:30 p.m. until 6:15 p.m.
“We’ll have auxiliary parking at BIS and we’ll have State Highway signs on Route 50 and 113 directing traffic to park there and we’ll shuttle them to and from the event, free shuttle,” said Sholtis.
Hooper’s Crab House will be lending the town its Crab Crawler to use as a shuttle and the Casino at Ocean Downs will provide Berlin with a bus as well.
The official theme of the party, besides celebrating Berlin being named the Coolest Small Town in America for 2014, is patriotic pride with party goers encouraged to wear red, white and blue.
The town is actively recruiting volunteers and other supporters. The Main Street Program is accepting sponsorships for the event at $500 or less with a live mention for each $100 increment. Those looking to sponsor or volunteer should contact Main Street Coordinator Megan Houston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One planned event that will go on rain or shine is the Berlin Fire Company’s cornhole tournament, which will take place Saturday at the fire headquarters. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. followed by the tournament at 1 p.m.