Buzzard, cherry blossom and shamrock to ring in 2015

While thousands crowd the streets of Times Square to watch the sparkly crystal ball drop in New York City, folks in Middle Georgia can ring in the new year by watching a buzzard, Cherry Blossom or a shamrock drop.

Macon will welcome 2015 with the annual Cherry Blossom Ball Drop at Cherry Street Plaza. The free festivities start Wednesday at 7 p.m. in front of Terminal Station, where there will be inflatables, face-painting for the youngsters, live music by local DJs, food and drink vendors, souvenirs and more.

There also will be a short fireworks show at 9 p.m. for those leaving before midnight.

“It’s a great opportunity to participate without being out too late,” said Sean Pritchard, director of programming and festival processes for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

The celebration will continue with the Cherry Blossom Ball Drop at midnight followed by a fireworks finale.

People are asked not to bring pets.

However, a bird will be the center of attention in Perry on New Year’s Eve with the city’s second annual Buzzard Drop at midnight. The birds pass through Perry during annual migration, said Main Street coordinator Catherine Edgemon. The idea for the drop came two years ago as a way to highlight a phenomenon in Perry.

“(Buzzards) can frequently be seen resting on water towers and other places here around town,” Edgemon said.

Food and spirit vendors, contests and live music are a few activities set for downtown Wednesday night. Jettison Blue will perform at 8 p.m. before the Has Beens take the stage at 9 p.m.

Cash prizes of $100 will be awarded to the winners of the Buzzard Boogie dance contest and the “Who Saw Bob?” contest, which people can enter by watching for the buzzard to randomly pop out of a miniature water tower on the grounds of the former courthouse, Edgemon said.

Festivities will continue until 12:30 a.m. and the Perry Police Department will provide a courtesy shuttle to take residents home within the city limits, Edgemon said. People are not allowed to bring alcohol.

Meanwhile, the city of Dublin will celebrate the new year with its first-ever Shamrock Drop at downtown’s Bicentennial Plaza.

“(The shamrock) is going to descend on the front of the Fred Roberts building, which is about four stories,” said Julia Nazerian, project assistant for Main Street Dublin.

The illuminated clover, made of sheet metal, was crafted by Oconee Fall Line Technical College students who donated it to the city, Nazerian said.

Thousands are expected to turn out for festivities that will start at 8 p.m. and end shortly after midnight. Food and drink vendors, live music and bounce houses for children will be set up at the plaza off Bellevue Avenue between Theatre Dublin and Morris State Bank.

Other New Year’s Eve events in Middle Georgia include:

New Year’s Eve Bash: 8 p.m. Macon Marriott Centreplex Ballroom, 200 Coliseum Drive. With Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. Also featuring Benjamin Olsen and Dirty Rhythm. Must be at least 21 years old. Tickets cost $20-$70. 478-803-1628.

New Year’s Eve Square Dance: 8 p.m.-12:15 a.m. Wednesday, Howard Community Club, 5645 Forsyth Road. Sponsored by Western Square Dancers of Macon Square Dance Club. Tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 at the door. 478-737-1565.

New Year’s Eve Big Bash: 8 p.m. Terminal Station, Cherry Street. Live music from the Grapevine, silent auction, BYOB and picnic baskets. Party dress or dressy casual. $40 or $300 for a table seating eight. www.arcmacon.org. 478-803-1462.

Numerous midstate churches are hosting Watch Night services. Please contact the church of your choice for times and other details.

Writer Laura Shirley contributed to this report. To contact writer Laura Corley, call 744-4382.