By Michael Williams
Gatlinburg city officials are expecting higher than average attendance to this year’s New Year’s Eve ball Drop. Each year thousands of tourists and locals alike descend on the strip in Gatlinburg to watch as a lighted ball, similar to the one in Times Square, descends in the final seconds of the old year and ascends as the clock strikes midnight to herald the arrival of a new year. Warmer than expected temperatures is expected to encourage a more than average number of revelers to attend the festivities.
This year marks the 28th New Year celebration. The ball drop and fireworks show is held around the intersection of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail at the base of the 400 foot tall Space Needle late Thursday night, December 31. At the stroke of midnight fireworks will be fired from the roof of the Space Needle as the ball reaches the top of the tower. Special music choreographed for the fireworks show produced by Pyro-Shows of LaFollette, Tennessee will accentuate the experience. The Space Needle has added rhythmic LED lights to the tower, making for a spectacular display. Free entertainment will begin at 10 pm near the Space Needle.
Many begin to gather at the base of the Space Needle by 10 p.m. but the Needle hits its passenger capacity at 11 p.m. Numerous vendors offer food, drink and free party favors to get you into a festive mood. While the best place to watch the ball drop from the top of the Space Needle and the countdown clock wind down is right in front of it, many Gatlinburg hotel rooms offer views of the structure, making them ideal places to stay.