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Jasper preparing large New Year’s celebration downtown

    Organizers are preparing to welcome a large crowd to downtown Jasper for the 2013 New Year’s Eve celebration featuring fireworks, a ball drop, vendors, music and giveaways (see full page ad this week for details).
    Jasper Mayor John Weaver said the city, the Chamber of Commerce, Jasper Merchants Association and downtown business owners are working to establish this as an annual celebration that will fill the streets with people ringing in the New Year.

    “We want to promote our businesses and tourism in Jasper,” said Weaver. “Hopefully this will become a regular event.”
    Weaver said they are unaware of any other New Year’s Eve celebration in North Georgia. Jasper held one in 1999 to celebrate the millennium, which the mayor recalled as a very good event - even though the crowd wasn’t that large.
    For this year, organizers of the “Party Local” celebration in downtown are trying to work out a mix of entertainment and security that will appeal to people as a good family event that still retains the celebratory-feel of a New Year’s Eve.
    Organizers believe many people throughout North Georgia will take part in a big-city-style celebration in a small town. “There are a lot of people who don’t want to risk their lives on the road or at an event going to Atlanta,” said the mayor. “If we can get the word out to other nearby towns, I think we will draw a good crowd.”
    Weaver said anyone coming here can be assured the event will be safe. “We will expect, and accept nothing less, than an orderly crowd,” the mayor said. “I want people to come downtown and feel safe.”
    Party Local will be held on Main Street, north of the Highway 53 intersection. The main stage will be set up at the north end of Main Street, like the stages for the Main Street Manias that were formerly held in the summer.
    A ball drop from a crane near the stage and a professional fireworks display will mark the New Year. Entertainment starts at 7 p.m. and will last until after midnight. Main Street will be closed earlier in the day for set-up.
    A limited amount of RV parking at the Old Roper Hospital site will be available for those from out of the area or who don’t want to drive home.
    When asked about the weather, Weaver said, “I think we’ll have a good evening. And even if it’s cold, they pack New York’s Times Square where it’s a whole lot colder.”
    Organizers view this as one more event to promote all the businesses in the area. He noted they are also hosting the Farmers’ Market (normally in Lee Newton Park) on Dec. 21 on Main Street.
    This kind of event should help the downtown merchants, particularly restaurants like the Woodbridge Inn and 61 Main. With two additional restaurants slated to open on Main Street in the next year, the city will be looking for other new events to draw people here, the mayor said.

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