Aggieville gears up for 10th annual New Year’s Eve

By Corene Brisendine

For the 10th year, Manhattan is celebrating New Year’s Eve with a ball drop. But don’t compare the local event to the one in the Big Apple.

“It’s unique,” said Steve Levin, general manager at Varney’s. “It’s not like New York’s; it’s our own.”

This year the Little Apple will celebrate its New Year’s Eve anniversary with extra style.

At the last City Commission meeting of the year, Mayor Loren Pepperd declared Dec. 31 “Little Apple New Year’s Eve Celebration Day.” Official events will include local musical act “Reckless Rebellion, a fireworks and laser display and a ball drop.

Work crews spent most of the day Friday installing the ball above the marquee at Varney’s in Aggieville. The store will close around 5 p.m. on Monday to allow the sound and stage crews set up for the big event with the music beginning at 11 p.m.

Levin said many local businesses are participating by hosting special sales and events throughout the day.

Manhattan Arts Center is hosting a circus-themed party beginning at 8 p.m. to ring in 2013, and Varsity Donuts plans to sell donuts from its truck from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Jermaine Dillon, manager at Varsity Donuts, said all the proceeds from the truck on New Year’s Eve will be donated to Four Paws Rescue of Kansas in St. George.

Along with hot food and drinks, there will be two live performances. Evan Tuttle, president of the Aggieville Business Association and event coordinator of the Manhattan Festival Committee, which organizes the annual New Year’s Eve celebration, said the Union Program Council at Kansas State University Union helps the committee find talent for the celebration. The council held a musical talent contest earlier this year. The winner, DJ Stix, will open for Reckless Rebellion New Year’s Eve.

According to its website, Reckless Rebellion plays “country (both new and old), red dirt and Texas Country, some alternative, as well as their original music.”

DJ Stix kicks off the night at 10 p.m. with Reckless Rebellion playing from 10:45 to 11:45. Then there is a break for the ball drop, and DJ Stix will take the stage again from 12:05 to 12:30 a.m.

Levin said about five minutes before midnight, K-State men’s basketball Coach Bruce Weber will speak and push the button that drops the ball and cues the fireworks, lasers and “Auld Lang Syne.”

“Weber will say something about how they are going to win the NCAA this year,” Levin said. “The fireworks and laser show is synchronized to music. It’s pretty cool.”

For those not wanting to brave the crowds, this year is the first year the celebration will be televised on WIBW Channel 13 from about 11:45 p.m. to 12:15 a.m.

Levin said the fire department will block off Moro Street (renamed Broadway for the event) and North Manhattan Avenue at about 11 a.m. on Monday so that everything can be set up.

Levin said last year Manhattan Fire Department estimated 10,000 people attended the event. Officials hire a private security firm to help deal with the crowds.

In comparison to New York City’s ball drop, he said Manhattan’s is “the matchbox version,” but he said it is still impressive to see so many people out celebrating the New Year.

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