Aggieville businesses rose to the occasion

Little Apple New Year’s Eve is still on

By The Mercury

New Year’s Eve is more than four months away, yet there’s already reason to break out the noisemakers.

Aggieville businesses have stepped forward with a commitment to underwrite the event, which has been a fixture in the entertainment district for more than a decade but seemed in jeopardy as recently as June.

That’s when Steve Levin, the general manager of Varney’s, which has been the primary sponsor from the outset, said the store could no longer afford to pump $20,000 to $25,000 into the event. That money helped subsidize everything from the ball drop at midnight at Varney’s to fireworks, live entertainment and other activities.

Varney’s had lost revenue when Kansas State University decided to operate its campus bookstore and because the K-State athletic department started using the university bookstore rather than Varney’s. As a result, Mr. Levin said at the time, “The extracurricular activities we do have to slow down.”

His announcement led to speculation that the festivities might be moved to another site in Manhattan or, worse, ended altogether. Certainly that would have muted celebrations on New Year’s Eve for many area residents and possibly cost the city some valuable publicity as well. The Little Apple New Year’s Eve has drawn not just the attention of regional television stations but of national networks as well, the combination of which cast a glowing light on our fair city.

Fortunately, members of the Aggieville Business Association weren’t about to let the fun stop. “Oh, it’s on,” Aaron Apel, president of the business association, told the Mercury last week. Not only did he acknowledge that much of the money for this year’s celebration has already been raised, but organizers are adding touches to the event.

Among those will be confetti cannons, merchandise, a heated VIP tent complete with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in Triangle Park and “glowy stuff” for children. Thought also is going into encouraging a gathering place for children and families, courtesy of a collaboration involving Varsity Donuts and Straight Upp Creative Studio.

The added features, along with a marvelous fireworks display, music and, of course, the countdown to midnight with all eyes fixed on the apple atop Varney’s, has the makings of a memorable New Year’s Eve.

We don’t doubt that the event could have succeeded had it been moved downtown, but the Little Apple New Year’s Eve originated in Aggieville and is a perfect fit for that entertainment district.

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