If you thought New Year’s Eve comes and goes a little too quietly in Sault Ste. Marie, City Council agrees with you.
Council last night unanimously approved a motion tabled by Ward 3 Councillor Angela Caputo calling for staff to formulate plans for a New Year’s celebration in the City, one that may include a countdown to
midnight ‘ball drop.’ The proposed hallmark event would be held at the Downtown Plaza.
“I’m excited about this resolution, honestly,” Ward 3 Councillor Angela Caputo, who tabled the motion, told council. “The only part that displeases me is that I brought it forward on the heels of seeing so many
Sault Ste. Marie residents leave Sault Ste. Marie to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a municipality that has a ball drop.”
Caputo said she saw many of her friends sharing videos of The Cherry Drop in Traverse City, New Year’s Eve. The streets were “absolutely packed” said Caputo, with music playing and people celebrating.
“My immediate thought was, why not us and why not the plaza? It is what it was built for.” Caputo says the Downtown Plaza is catching on with residents. She told council every time she drove past the plaza over the holidays it was packed with families and people skating. She added elderly folks have told her they feel safe there as well.
“Anything we can do to continue to amplify the positive effect that we have seen in the short period of the Downtown Plaza is something we should consider,” said Caputo, adding activities for kids should be in sharp focus.
A family-oriented ball drop on NYE’s a “slam dunk” for the city, Caputo said, adding she thinks it will fill the downtown much like the annual tree lighting.
Some of the Ontario centres that host family-oriented New Year’s Eve celebrations in include North Bay, Barrie, Brampton and Niagara Falls.
Barrie’s Downtown Countdown features fireworks, skating, live music and family family activities. The event begins at 6 p.m. and continues until midnight and the celebratory turn of the calendar.
Ward 1 Coun. Sonny Spina, who seconded the motion, said a NYE celebration is a “fantastic fit” with the popularity of the Plaza on the rise, adding it’s a natural gathering place. “I think (a NYE celebration) is something that can be a new tradition for years and years to come. I’m happy to second this.”
Ward 1 Coun. Susan Hollingsworth asked about the viability of a fun contest, where residents would submit ideas for what could drop at midnight, besides a ball.
Tom Vair, Deputy CAO, Community Development and Enterprise Services said his staff have had conversations and started to research what other communities are doing for NYE, adding staff would be open to the contest concept.
“Coun. Caputo mentioned the cherry in Traverse City. There’s a pineapple, there’s an orange, there’s a music note in Nashville, there’s a marlin in a community on the east coast…lots of different things out there,” said Vair. “I think having something unique for Sault Ste. Marie would be an option we can bring back to council to consider.”
“It’ll create some fun and community energy,” said Hollingsworth. City staff will report back to council with some plans, associated costs, and their input on the family-friendly ball drop option.