MARQUETTE - Monday night, thousands of spectators will take to the streets in downtown Marquette to ring in the new year and take part in a local tradition that is more than two decades old.
Marquette Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Mona Lang estimates that between 3,500 and 5,000 people come to the intersection of Front and Washington streets to watch the annual ball drop from the old Savings Bank Building.
"I think it has become an event that a lot of people come into Marquette for the holidays and they stay over through the ball drop," she said. "I think it's really just a community event."
A crowd of people, seen here from atop the old Savings Bank Building in downtown Marquette, gather on the corner of Front and Washington Streets to witness the ball drop that ushered in 2011. (Journal file photo)
Lang said the whole event is put on by volunteers, including the owner of the old Savings Bank Building and the company that oversees the actual ball drop.
From the DDA's perspective, then, there isn't a lot of work to be done, with regard to the New Year's Eve festivities.
"It's kind of an event that's a non-event," she said. "It just happens."
Each year, according to Lang, the DDA pulls the city permits required to close the intersection to traffic for the period of time surrounding the ball drop. Last year, those fees totaled $2,800. The DDA this year received a $2,500 waiver of fees from a city promotions fund.
For this year's ball drop, the area surrounding the intersection will close for two hours beginning at 11 p.m. Monday. Washington Street will be closed between Lakeshore Boulevard and Third Street, while Front Street will be closed between Main and Bluff streets.
Lang said food vendors may be set up on the street during that time, and reminded attendees that alcohol is not permitted at the ball drop.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.