Thanks for happy new year

Planners, safety officials deserve appreciation for annual event
Jan. 01, 2013 @ 11:41 PM

For the last 25 years, Gatlinburg has been helping locals and visitors alike welcome in a new year.

Monday night’s celebration marked the 25th annual New Year’s Eve celebration in the city. Over the years, the event has gotten bigger, with the addition of fireworks a decade ago and an upgrade of the ball that is dropped from the Space Needle.

George Hawkins, who coordinates this and other events sponsored by the city, said the first ball used for the celebration was made out of large pieces of Styrofoam. Fearing high winds could whip the orb away, they changed to a lightweight aluminum ball.

Once the ball reaches the bottom in its descent down column of the Space Needle, it now sets off the fireworks display from there and across other rooftops in the city.

The famed Pyro Shows of LaFollette sets up the fireworks display, as it has done in years past for this and other events.

The New Year’s event is a big attraction for visitors to the city, with tens of thousands filling the street each year. Businesses surely benefit from the crowds that flow in and out of shops and restaurants as they wait for the clock to strike midnight.

A lot of work and effort goes into the event, from the planning of the show to the city’s police and fire officials who stand by in case of emergencies and to keep order among the revelers. With thousands of people packing the streets of Gatlinburg, that’s quite a job to tackle and one that should be appreciated.

So, thanks to all of those who plan the event and to those who keep us safe during the celebrations.