The New Year’s Eve ball will not be raised this year atop the Byrd Theatre, the Byrd Theatre Foundation announced Wednesday, citing safety concerns, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“After consultation with the Carytown Merchants Association and several other community partners, it is clear that many in the Carytown and surrounding communities have serious concerns about the Ball Raise,” Melissa Savenko, President of the Byrd Theatre Foundation, said in a news release posted on Facebook.
Original Dec. 18, 2013
New York City has Times Square’s “ball drop.” Richmond has Carytown’s “ball rise.” If you’re going to be anywhere at 11:59 a.m. on December 31, 2013, why not make it Cary Street near the Byrd Theatre?
What started in 2006 as an “impromptu” New Year’s Eve event, morphed into a larger affair in 2007 and 2008, and has since evolved back into an organic “happening,” is well, happening again this year – a very loosely organized and very loosely promoted but highly symbolic celebration of the ringing in of 2014 with the ball rise above the Byrd in Carytown. Todd Schall-Vess, manager of the Byrd Theatre, is responsible for the annual ball rise “happening” He says the “ball rise” is an important tradition for the city, even though the celebration has reverted to its grassroots. While there is a return to informality in how the “non-event” comes together, the formal recognition of another year passing won’t go by unnoticed or un-feted, even though there will be no street party or hub-bub, which is how Schall-Vess likes it.
“It’s not part of some big mega-corporate thing or even some mega-government thing. It’s completely homegrown,” says Schall-Vess. “It was something that started with a couple of people saying, ‘It would really be nice if we did our own New Year’s thing,’ and that’s the way it’s continued. It’s not Times Square. It’s our thing. It’s Richmond.”
But as with any reason to party, expect a throng of revelers to gather in Carytown around the 11 o’clock hour, and continue to grow in size until midnight. Schall-Vess says the crowd starts to assemble around the 11:30 p.m. and generally Richmond Police allow people to spill into the street, and then they quickly clear the area. “It’s amazing. It’s like you can look down and not see the pavement anywhere in the street at like five minutes to twelve. Then ten after twelve, it’s like a ghost town. Everybody’s gone.”
“Realize that the streets aren’t closed. Come down and be cognizant of the merchants’ property and people parked on the street,” Schall-Vess advises. He also suggests to not come down too early and to not linger unless you’re going to patronize any of the retail or restaurant establishments that plan to be open late.
The New Year’s Eve ball, studded with hundreds of LED lights, will be the same this year and won’t start rising up the 40-foot tower until literally the last minute. Try to position yourself west of the Byrd Theatre to have the best view of the ball and so you can count down along with the clock. Then, prepare to say good-bye to 2013 and hello to 2014, which judging by all of the “best of” lists that Richmond has made this year, could be the “best” year for the renaissance of the River City yet.