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Berlin gives back on NYE

(Dec. 26, 2014) The reigning Coolest Small Town in America is set to ring in the new year in typical, Berlin fashion – a large outdoor gathering with a few drinks in the historic downtown district.

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Following along the heels of a yearlong cavalcade of events, including bathtub races and fiddler’s conventions, the town will again suspend open beverage container laws and offer entertainment in anticipation of more than 1,000 guests on Main Street.

Outgoing Economic and Community Development Director Michael Day said the New Year’s Eve party was an “overnight success” when it debuted four years ago – although he initially balked at the idea.

“When they came and said they wanted to do this I said, ‘I don’t,’ I wanted to be at home in bed with the clicker watching Dick Clark or whoever would be on at that time and not fool with this,” he said. “After the first one, it was such a huge success. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Town staff worked feverishly in a daylong effort to remove the previous night’s snowfall during that inaugural year, and everything else fell into place.

“It shocked us,” Day said. “We thought 300-500 people maximum and 1,200 showed up. We had no port-a-potty’s outside and we hardly had anything going on.”

“Big Al Reno” from Ocean 98 Irie Radio will emcee this year’s event, highlighted by the requisite “ball-drop” at midnight over the Atlantic Hotel, which will also dispense beer and wine.

“The first year [the ball] was pretty simple,” Day said. “The second year we put hula hoops around it, and on the third year we put steel bands around it. So the outside has gotten bigger each year.”

Incoming Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells said she is excited for her first Berlin New Year’s Eve party.

“I’ve spent New Year’s in Times Square before, so I’m interested to see how this compares,” she said. “I’m interested to see how it pans out and what I can add and work on for next year.”

Day called the event “a local’s thing.”

“The stores aren’t open. There’s no big economic impact,” he said. “It’s more of the town celebrating the end of the year – it’s kind of our gift back to the community.”

The New Year’s Eve celebration runs from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

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