Local fireworks stands prepare for New Year’s Eve; Cheyenne to host 2nd annual Ball Drop

SPC FireworksBy Joshua Scheer, reporter, county10.com

(Fremont County, Wyo.) – With a countywide fire ban and the City of Lander going against tradition and banning fireworks this last July 4, fireworks stand owners are hoping for increased business on New Year’s Eve.

Historically, Lander has allowed fireworks on July 4, but due to severe drought conditions, the city council didn’t lift the ban. The Fremont County Commission also banned fireworks this summer, allowing only non-aerial displays between 8 p.m. and midnight on July 4.

To ease some of the pain of the July 4 ban, the City of Lander is allowing fireworks to be fired off on New Year’s Eve from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

The county’s fire ban has also been lifted. Maxinne Haas, co-owner of Cracker Box Fireworks Discount on the northwest edge of Lander, said her stand has yet to see a sales increase.

“We are praying we’re getting business on New Year’s Eve,” Haas said. Cracker Box will be open throughout the weekend and nearly all day on Dec. 31.

She’s not too concerned about not seeing additional sales yet, noting she believes most people are waiting until the last minute to see what the weather will be like. “It’s customary for them to wait,” she said. “This is kind of normal for us. Most people wait for the last minute.”

Flying Phoenix Fireworks owner Jim Landis said he’ll open his stand north of Riverton on Saturday.

“I’ve never really seen this before, so I don’t know how to call it,” he said of Lander allowing fireworks this year.

Landis said he thinks this year will be similar to past New Year’s Eves. He said when the town allowed fireworks for the turn of the century there wasn’t much increased traffic.

Thanks to recent snow fall, Lander Fire Administrator Nick Hudson said his volunteer fire department is planning any special preparations. Prior to the snow, some preparation was beginning, but the concern for fires has decreased.

“Be careful with them,” Hudson reminds those planning on shooting off fireworks. He reminded families to supervise children and to clean up after themselves.

The Cheyenne Ball Drop:

The Ball for the second annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop over Cheyenne’s Depot Square will descend from twice as high as last year’s Drop.  The crane company, C.H. Yarber, announced that it will use its 150 ton crane this year.  The top of the crane will be 201 feet above the plaza.  The New Year’s Eve Ball will hang over 15 stories above downtown Cheyenne. The nearby Hynds Building and Plains Hotel are only five floors each.

The first Ball Drop in 2011, Yarber’s used its 75 ton crane with at a height of 120 feet. The bigger crane will not only raise the Ball higher, it will provide greater stability in the event of high winds.  Last year, the Ball endured a high wind warning with gusts recorded as high as 83 mph.  This wind blew the roof off of Sam’s Club but the Ball worked perfectly according to plan.  The Ball will seen from all entrances and both Interstate highways into Cheyenne.  It can be seen from as far north as Vandehei Boulevard at Yellowstone.

The Ball will hang from the top of the crane over the weekend.  It will descend on New Year’s Eve and touch down on the Plaza at the stroke of midnight to ring in the New Year.

Bob Bradshaw, Special Projects Director for the City of Cheyenne, estimated last year’s crowd at 4,500 despite the windy weather.  The City has made contingency plans for as many as many as 10,000 people.  LightsOn! urges everyone to come downtown early and enjoy a late dinner on any of the downtown restaurants.  Then, around eleven, people can proceed to the plaza.
Spectators for the Ball Drop can start gathering around 11:00 p.m. in the Cheyenne Depot Square plaza.  Townsquare Media will have a DJ to provide music and entertainment.  LightsOn! has brought in Beamin Lasers to project a laser light beam show and countdown onto the face of the Depot.  At midnight, fireworks will explode from the roof of the Hynds Building to kick off the New Year 2013.  Expect other surprises.
LightsOn! is hosting a dinner and dance party in the Depot.  LightsOn! will also host a hot chocolate Open House in the Hynds building beginning at 9:00 p.m. for the benefit of the Alternative Arts Project.  The Alternative Arts Project provide free guitar lessons to Cheyenne school students at the Hynds every week.  The public can get more information on the New Year’s Eve Dinner at the Depot party at http:/CheyenneBallDrop.EventBrite.com.
LightsOn! created the Ball Drop as its contribution to add to the vitality to downtown Cheyenne.  The ball was designed by Architect Glen Garrett.  Puma Steel of Cheyenne donated the material and fabricated the steel ball in less than a day last year.  Major sponsors for the Ball Drop include the DDA, LightsOn!, Simon Construction, Modern Flooring and Interiors, Visit Cheyenne, Townsquare Media, KGWN TV5, The Chamber of Commerce, Pioneer Printing, and CRMC.  Many other businesses have donated materials, services, and money.  The group sees this as an event for the entire community and region.