Revelers descended upon Ludington Avenue by the thousands Monday night to bid farewell to 2018 and mark the arrival of a new year at the 10th annual Pure Ludington New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.
The event — organized by the Ludington Downtown Development Authority — went off without a hitch, despite the rain that threatened to cast a cloud over the event in the morning and afternoon.
By the time the festivities formally began at 9 p.m., the raindrops had transformed into thick flakes of snow that covered the lakeshore in a blanket of white and the temperature held steady at 33 degrees right up until the moment the 2019 began.
The snowfall was a godsend for the Ball Drop, according to Jen Tooman, marketing and communications coordinator for the Downtown Ludington Board.
“It rained the entire time during setup ... but we were hoping everything would turn over to snow before things started, and it happened,” Tooman said. “People will come out and hang out in the snow, but we weren’t sure what was going to happen if it was raining. So it all worked out.”
Though the snow made things more festive and fun for visitors, Tooman said the event was going to be held regardless of how the weather turned out.
“We’re a rain-or-shine crowd,” she said.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Pure Ludington New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, some additions were made to make the festivities bigger and better than ever.
One such addition was the expansion of the entertainment tent. The 30-by-30-foot space used in previous years was bumped up to a 40-by-60-foot tent to accommodate the anticipated large crowds, as well as the rocking music of White Rabbit, who performed live in James Street Plaza during the lead-up to midnight.
Tooman said it was a crowdpleaser.
“I’d say it’s a success,” Tooman said. “The entertainment tent’s packed, and people are outside and having fun … so we’re good.”
Tooman said even with the additional room for music, dancing and celebration, the tent was still packed.
“I think we have to go bigger next year,” she said. “People are loving it, and the band is loving it, but it’s just packed. So I think we could go larger.”
Visitors and residents alike spent the evening dancing, mingling with friends, perusing the downtown Ludington businesses that were offering extended hours for the occasion and spending quality time with family members.
Dan Bishop of Grand Blanc seized the moment, proposing to Colleen McMullen of Waterford during the festivities.
“I said ‘yes,’” McMullen said.
“After crying for a while,” Bishop added, smiling warmly at his new fiancée.
Read the full story in Wednesday’s Ludington Daily News print or e-Edition.