GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Nearly 40,000 people filled the streets of downtown Grand Rapids on New Year's Eve, as the fourth annual Ball Drop expands its trajectory to become a tradition.
The HotFM event outgrew Rosa Parks Circle, but the downtown venue remained the prime location for ringing in the new year. Marcus Bradman, the director of events for Cumulus Media, said they needed to expand out of necessity.
"The last couple years we've really outgrown Rosa Parks Circle," he told 24 Hour News 8. "Rosa Parks Circle was designed to hold maybe 10,000 people, max."
Monroe Avenue was blocked off between Pearl and Campau, which allowed the stage to be set on the street, and gave revelers the chance to move more freely.
It was also a move welcomed by the Grand Rapids police.
"It'll help us a little bit," Lt. Patrick Dean said. "The main factor is giving us a little bit more room for everybody."
The move seemed to be a hit with the people who came downtown.
"I like it. I like that they close off the street to make it a little bigger," said Jennifer Harrison-Howell. "They had the ice skating earlier. I thought that was really a little mini-Rockefeller Center."
With the move, the skaters could keep skating all evening.
Though the crowds are not nearly the size of New York, the concert-watchers and the restaurant-goers made it a packed night in the center city.
"We expect to be slammed," said Rob Butler of Z's Restaurant. "We got a capacity of 155. We do expect to hit 155, and then we'll be counting people as they come out to let people in."
New Year's Eve. Ring out the old. Ring in the new. And for 2012, a new downtown block party.
On January 2, Bradman said they're looking forward to doing the event again next year.
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