BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) For the 23rd year, thousands of Western New Yorkers will celebrate the New Year in downtown Buffalo, and preparations for the 2011 Buffalo Ball Drop and Fireworks are underway.
The practice run of the "Ball" was made Tuesday from the Electric Tower building on Roosevelt Plaza in downtown Buffalo. While it was only a test, organizers say it is important to make sure everything works smoothly for the big night.
Michael Licata, Vice President of Alternative Energy from Frey Electric commented, "We're feeling great about it. The ball drop went great even in high winds, so we're happy to see that." Frey Electric is one of the sponsors of the event.
Sue Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Buffalo Police Athletic League, and one of the organizers of the event said, "We never know what the weather is going to be like on New Year's Eve, but it looks like this year it is going to be 20 degrees above normal."
The ball itself has hundreds of lights, and will take about a minute and half to descend down 200 plus feet of the Electric Tower. Then, 1,800 fireworks will be set off to rin in 2011.
But it is not only the light show that draws people in every year, many say it is the atmosphere.
This year, the event will be filled with great entertainment. Dennis George, better known as "The Quizmaster" will take the stage just before the local band, "More Than Me", performs for their hometown crowd.
Dennis said, "This is the greatest event, in my estimation, in Buffalo. I kicks off the nwe year!"
Ryan Jacob Doyle from the band "More Than Me" noted he was very excited to be a part of the event, and said it is an honor to be invited.
The stage show starts at the Electric Tower at 10:30pm Friday night, followed by complete coverage on Channel 7 beginning with "Eyewitness News at 11" and "Countdown to 2011."
Sponsors of the Buffalo Ball Drop and Fireworks include Independent Health, The WNY Chevy Dealers, Frey Electric, and many others.
Here is the official release from the City Of Buffalo:
BUFFALO BALL DROP RETURNS TO DOWNTOWN FOR 23rd YEAR
BUFFALO, NY – The 23rd annual “Buffalo Ball Drop & Fireworks Display” at the Iskalo Electric Tower is back, to ring in 2011!
This year, get ready for a special show and concert so Western New York can celebrate together. Key donors stepped-up once again to make sure the annual tradition continues, and show the thousands of guests from around the world here for the World Junior Hockey Tournament how Buffalo rings in the New Year.
A live concert featuring local band, “More Than Me,” who opened for Paul McCartney in London this summer, will headline this year’s stage performances.
It will be fun for the whole family when Dennis George, ”The Quizmaster”, takes the stage at 10:30pm in Roosevelt Plaza. Test your skill while he engages the crowd with a fast-paced trivia show to warm-up early revelers coming from First Night prior to the concert start.
The Police Athletic League of Buffalo, one of the event producers along with Iskalo Development and WKBW Channel 7, is pleased to announce all necessary funding has been secured for this year’s production.
"The Buffalo Ball Drop is a twenty plus year tradition for the community, and our viewers. Channel 7 is proud to continue that tradition in making good things happen for the Police Athletic League, our sponsors, viewers, and everyone who attends this exciting event," notes Channel 7 President and General Manager Bill Ransom.
The “Countdown To 2011” special will air on WKBW-DT beginning at 11pm Friday December 31st, showcasing all the excitement from Times Square and the Buffalo Ball Drop & Fireworks display.
Independent Health has been an anchor sponsor for many Ball Drop events over the years. Once again, Independent Health has come forward to continue this Buffalo tradition, the second largest such event in the United States. Michael W. Cropp, M.D. President and Chief Executive Officer stated,
“Independent Health has sponsored the Buffalo Ball Drop for more than a decade and we’re pleased to continue supporting this great community event to ring in the New Year in downtown Buffalo,” said Michael W. Cropp, M.D. president and chief executive officer. “The Buffalo Ball Drop has been a community tradition for more than 20 years and we’re grateful to the many organizations and individuals dedicated to continue this tradition in downtown Buffalo. We recognize the New Year is a time for making resolutions, setting new goals, and making a fresh start. This often starts with more exercise, eating right and taking better care of yourself. Take a step toward a healthier life this year and let it begin with the Buffalo Ball Drop on New Year's Eve.”
The fireworks show, shot from the top of the Electric Tower, will once again be orchestrated by the Skylighters of WNY. For 2011, the Chevy Dealers of WNY have signed on to sponsor this spectacular fireworks show, one of the most unique in the country displayed in an urban setting.
Returning sponsors also include Upstate New York Transplant Services (UNYTS) and WGRF-FM 97 Rock.
Other sponsors include Veolia Water; Local Edge Media; Frey Electric; Schmidt’s Collision and Glass; St. Bonaventure University; and Valu City Furniture;
Last year’s event was nearly postponed due to lack of a significant funding source necessary to cover the large production, security, fireworks, and ancillary costs of the Buffalo Ball Drop and Fireworks Display.
The Ball will drop in synch with its sister in New York’s Time Square, with the giant fireworks display starting immediately after the new year begins! The show is choreographed to classic rock and seasonal music favorites at multiple launch points on the Electric Tower.
A video presentation looking back over the last year will be played on the Jumbotrons, produced courtesy of WKBW-DT and Channel 7’s Eyewitness News, the official station of the Ball Drop for the entire twenty-two years.
The Fireworks show is presented by The Skylighters Of Western New York under the direction of Bill Minnich.
The fireworks used are created in Cuba, NY in the Southern Tier with products all made in the USA.
The fireworks are made special to be shot off the top of the Electric Tower, creating a short range shot due to the close proximity of other buildings in the downtown urban setting.
There are approximately 1,800 “shots” fired off the top of the Electric Tower.
The fireworks used are a mix of “tails” and multi shot fireworks to create the colorful splashes.
There are approximately one dozen fireworks experts from The Skylighters, who begin their day Friday at 9am for the Midnight show.
The show lasts approximately 10 minutes, and is choreographed to music selected for the show by organizers that is a mix of rock, holiday, and pop.
The Skylighters of WNY have been producing the Fireworks show as part of the Buffalo Ball Drop since 1992. The Ball Drop has been taking place since 1988.
The Ball itself takes approximately (1:30) to descend from the top of the Electric Tower.
Engineers from the Electric Tower work to secure the “Ball” on the cables that stretch the entire length of the building, controlled from the top of the tower.
Engineers are in communication with the ground crew to make sure the ball does not “sway” and is making a smooth descent, in sync with the Times Square Ball to land at midnight.
The Ball is made of metal, with hundreds of lights, and was constructed specifically for the Ball Drop event.
The Ball is stored at the facilities at Indigo Productions all year and is brought out only for the New Year’s Eve event!