ALLEGAN, MI – Allegan’s locally owned and operated Ropes Courses, Inc. (RCI) helped light up Allegan’s New Year’s Eve festivities this year, literally, by creating the largest lighted ball in Michigan. The ball, measuring 10.5 feet in diameter and displaying more than 30,000 multi-colored LED lights, was dropped at the first annual New Year’s Eve festival held at the Riverfront Plaza in downtown Allegan on Dec. 31. The new ball size beat previous Western Michigan record-holder Ludington with their 6.5-foot lighted ball, and topped the prior statewide record held by Midland’s 10-foot ball.
It took more than 200 hours of labor by RCI employees and volunteers to create the spectacularly illuminated ball. Each LED light was individually controlled to react to music and the sound of the crowd throughout the evening.
“We felt like Santa’s little elves assembling all of the fixtures and placing each of the 750 wire connections,” according to Sean Horihan, an engineer for Ropes Courses, Inc. “We had a great team of people that all wanted to be part of helping to put Allegan’s New Year’s Eve festivities on the map.”
At the stroke of midnight, more than 3,500 people watched the ball’s 25-foot descent beginning from the top of the Allegan Event Z!P zip line tower 55 feet above the waiting crowd. The ball drop was the culmination of the evening’s free and family-friendly activities and attractions that were hosted by Positively Allegan and Allegan Event Z!P. A zip line ride across the Allergan River, fireworks, large fire pits for keeping warm, food and drink, and live music with a deejay were highlights of the evening for children and adults. The success for this first-ever event that delivered both interactive fun along with bragging rights for the local community is expected to return next year. Both sponsoring organizations hope to expand activities and attendance next year.
The dramatic ball drop included some special effects by RCI’s engineer Horihan.
“The artistic side of programming the ball drop was fun and creative as some of the special effects were meant to capture chronologically some of the major events of 2017,” explained Horihan. “For example, I illustrated the post-inauguration women’s marches in January by making the ball look as huge as possible to reflect the enormity of the crowds and then have the ball suffused in shades of pink. I used strobe effects to simulate the hurricanes, and a blueberry hill to recognize the passing of Fats Domino and the song most closely identified with him,” he continued.
Other color effects through the ball drop designed to illuminate some major news events included swaying green waves bursting into orange flames and then into blue streams of water to mark the California fires and the efforts of the fire fighters battling the blazes.
To see a clip highlighting the night’s activities and for a view of Michigan’s largest New Year’s Eve ball, click on Fox 17 News.