Wellsburg ready to ring in the new year

WELLSBURG – While it won’t match the magnitude of the celebration in New York’s Times Square tonight, area residents will be ringing in the arrival of 2014 with similar festivities in Wellsburg’s Town Square.

With its own ball drop, a fireworks display and music, the annual event offers a low-keyed but pleasant way to ring in the new year, said Wellsburg Collector-Treasurer Fran Kraus, who organizes the celebration with Randy Yost, the city’s wastewater superintendent; and Mayor Sue Simonetti.

The festivities will begin at 10 p.m. and conclude at midnight, when a large, lighted ball created by vocational students at Brooke High School is lowered from a flagpole onto the square.

Weighing more than 70 pounds, the 5-foot-wide ball was rigged with more than 200 Christmas lights.

The ball drop will be followed by a fireworks display launched from the 12th Street boat ramp. Provided by Pyrotecnico of New Castle, Pa. with funds allocated by Wellsburg Council, the fireworks can be viewed from many areas of the city.

Simonetti said many residents have commented they enjoy watching them from their homes.

But those who gather at the town square also can listen to music played by a disc jockey, partake of cookies and hot chocolate, or be entered into a drawing for two bicycles donated by Merco Marine and other smaller door prizes provided by various local businesses.

The event is relatively low key but has drawn an increasing number of people in recent years.

“There were about 150 people here last year,” said Yost, as he set up the lighted ball with the help of city employee Jim Shaffer.

Yost has recruited Matt Stromyer, the disc jockey for the event; and other leaders and students involved with Brooke County 4-H to assist with the event.

Yost also will be firing knitted winter hats from an air compressor during tonight’s festivities.

The occasion also offers area residents an opportunity to see the town square decorated for Christmas and its lighted Christmas tree, which was donated by Pikevue Nursery of Wellsburg.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)