Every year since the Cherry Blossom Ball Drop in Macon began on New Years Eve 2009, organizers have tweaked and added a little something to the festivities.
To usher in 2013, organizers have decided to devote the earlier part of the evening to families before giving way to adult revelers later in the night.
Sean Pritchard, who is organizing this years ball drop, said event planners decided that from 7-9 p.m., families with children would be the focus, with events such as face-painting, giveaways and a special mini-fireworks show at 9.
Its going to be a really family-friendly environment, Pritchard said. We want people to come out and celebrate with us.
Pritchard said that with past events, some adults werent able to stay out until midnight with their children or didnt want to risk being out on the roads later at night.
Pritchard said last years crowd was estimated at roughly 2,000 people, and hes expecting this years gathering to be even bigger.
Its one of those events that has definitely grown to be more popular, he said. Weve seen an increase (in turnout) each year.
The full event in Cherry Street Plaza features music from DJ Laura Starling, and the Cherry Blossom Ball Drop will take place while the ball drop in New Yorks Times Square is being broadcast on a large screen. A full fireworks show will begin at the stroke of midnight.
While the event is free, Pritchard said organizers will sell food, drinks and merchandize at the plaza.
Downtown booster group NewTown Macon is really excited about the Cherry Blossom Festival continuing the ball drop tradition.
We know its going to be wonderful, said Kris Hattaway, director of place for NewTown Macon.
Tom Sarrtsud, co-owner of Lemongrass Bistro on Cherry Street, said theres always a good crowd for New Years Eve.
Maybe well get two sets of (customers) instead of one, he said, referring to the family and adult crowds at separate times.
Its very good. I like it. Its very exciting, he said.
Pritchard said the ball drop serves as a sort of unofficial countdown to the Cherry Blossom Festival, which will run March 15-24, 2013.
Its a good wrap-up for the year and a kickstarter for the Cherry Blossom Festival, he said.
For more information about the ball drop, visit www.cherryblossomballdrop.com.