GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Grand Rapids partied like it's twenty-oh-nine.
For the first time, a ball dropped at midnight in Rosa ParksCircle ushering in 2009 in front of an overflowing downtowncrowd.
New Year's On The Grand , put on by CitadelBroadcasting and the City of Grand Rapids, mirrors the successfulBlues on the Mall summer series. On New Year's Eve, the music beganwith country music star Darryl Worley at 5:30 p.m. The Plain White T's followed. Local band JustJake played before and after the ball dropped from its 200-footheight.
The crowd got larger as the evening progressed, despite bittercold temperatures. By the time midnight rolled around, people werelining up along streets surrounding Rosa Parks Circle. Policeallowed the throng to stand along Monroe Avenue as they stoppedtraffic.
The ball was built by Rockford Construction, with help fromSpecialty Metal Fabricators of Dutton and Westmass Electric inGrand Rapids. They largely picked up the cost of the ball,estimated around $50,000.
The ball is 6'2" in diameter, made of welded steel plates andtubes, with 32 steel bands on the exterior grid. It weighs about450 pounds and has 448 lights that will use more than 35,000 wattsof power, all connected with about a mile of wire. The lights willflash randomly at the discretion of the operator.
Other sponsors covered most of the rest of the expenses. BudLight is taking care of the band costs, and the city of GrandRapids is covering some of the cost of the extra police officers.Police will also be patrolling the annual New Year's Eve Griffinsgame, and there is an event at DeVos Place.
"It took a lot of people to get on board to cover the cost,"said Citadel executive Matt Hanlon. "It's expensive. It's way oversix figures."
Area bars and restaurants are joining in the celebration, andfree and low-cost shuttles will be available to party goers.
In Kalamazoo, the New Year's Fest featured 28performers in nine different buildings, all accessible with a $5ticket. The celebration got underway at 5:30 p.m. with the Tuba NewYear, and continued well past midnight with many differentacts.
One person is dead after firefighters found the victim's body inside a condominium complex in Kalamazoo Township that was on fire Wednesday afternoon.
11 fire departments from several counties were called out to a fire at an adult entertainment club Wednesday afternoon.
Holland police were searching for 28-year-old Mark Steven Randall Harris, who was considered armed and dangerous, but arrested him late Wednesday night.