When Tim Duckworth was first asked by NewTown Macon to build a large, metallic ball with a cherry blossom theme, he admitted he thought it was a bit unusual.
“I was kind of leery when (NewTown’s Kris Hattaway) called,” said Duckworth, owner of Duck’s Welding. “She was trying to describe it on the phone and she was so excited. She had really big hopes for it.”
Duckworth met with Hattaway, NewTown Macon’s director of place, who pitched the idea of creating a ball from recycled parts from an old Cherry Blossom Festival Christmas decoration that was no longer being used. The 6-foot ball would attach to a 30-foot metal platform and would descend during this year’s New Year’s Eve countdown in downtown Macon.
“Once we talked about it and I got (the parts) to my shop, it went together real easy,” he said. “But I’ve definitely never done something like that before. ... I’ve welded together anything you can think of, but this was the most unusual request thrown at me.”
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Ultimately, Duckworth — with some help from his father — created a ball that can be separated into four pieces, designed to latch onto the tower. It will be covered with lights and metallic cherry blossoms.
The ball drop will be the centerpiece of First Friday at Midnight, an event co-sponsored by NewTown and the Cherry Blossom Festival. Many of the typical draws of First Friday will be taking place, in addition to a live music street party, Hattaway said. The event is free to the general public.
In addition, open container ordinances have been waived from 5 p.m. today through 2 a.m. Friday as long as people purchase special cups and wristbands from a downtown Macon establishment.
“We want people to see the event as an annual tradition,” she said.
Still, the ball drop likely will be the main draw and could get national attention tonight, Hattaway said. There are plans for the ball drop to be included on a pre-recorded segment with other ball drops from across the country on NBC’s “New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly,” which will begin its live broadcast tonight at 10.
“It would be really great attention for Macon as being the cherry blossom capital of the world,” Hattaway said.
Hattaway said the ball drop has been tested and should be ready to go. It will be set up this morning at the intersection of Third and Cherry streets. Hattaway said part of Cherry Street will be closed at 10 a.m., while other parts of Cherry Street extending from Second Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will be closed at 7 p.m.
Stacy Campbell, marketing director of the Cherry Blossom Festival, said she’s had nothing but positive response ever since a news conference several weeks ago to announce the event.
“It’s perfect,” she said. “We’ve got the lights strung up. ... There are a lot of groups who have been saying they’ve wanted to do something like this for the longest time.”
Duckworth said he hopes he and his family will be able to see his creation descend in the moments leading up to midnight.
“We plan on it,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s just a matter of if I can stay up that late.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.