The clock may be counting down on Manhattan’s most popular New Year’s Eve tradition, the Little Apple Drop.
We’ve been doing a Times Square-style ball drop (except with an apple instead of a ball) in Aggieville for years. And while most people seem to like the idea of it, nobody really wants to pay for it.
The main problem is that the event itself doesn’t make money. Aggieville bars probably benefit from the many people, mostly college students, who flock to the district for the holiday, but because officials close down the streets for the event, usually beginning in the afternoon, it’s really sort of detrimental to other businesses.
In years past, organizers have pulled out all the stops for the apple drop, including fireworks, laser light shows and live music. But that brings the tab to $50,000 or $60,000.
Last year, Aggieville Business Association director Dennis Cook said the cost was just under $20,000, which seems more reasonable, especially since it’s often so cold that nobody wants to spend very long outside. What generally happens is that thousands of people pour out of the bars onto Moro Street for about 15 minutes for the ball drop and then head back inside.
The other problem is parking, or the lack thereof. That’s a common complaint in Aggieville, which is why the city has approved one parking garage there and is considering another. Until those are built, spaces will continue to be limited. New Year’s revelers may have to hoof it a ways.
Despite the problems, we’re glad to hear that the Aggieville Business Association has decided to keep the ball drop for at least one more year. Cook said that after that they’re not sure what will happen. The association relies on sponsors to fund the event, but it takes time and effort to find those sponsors and organize the event.
Some people have floated the idea of having the ball drop elsewhere, possibly in the downtown area. That would be better than no ball drop at all, but we definitely think Aggieville is the best fit for a New Year’s Eve venue. It’s got many more bars, most of them open until 2 a.m. Because of that, it draws many more young people, who are the most likely to turn out for something late at night in the cold.
As Cook said, it would be a shame to lose the Little Apple Drop, which is one of the district’s signature events.
We understand why the Aggieville Business Association is taking a hard look at backing this event, but we hope it will be able to find a sustainable solution so that Manhattan can continue this festive tradition.