8Tamaqua welcomed in 2010 a little differently than it had in the previous 11 years.

Typically, the illuminated eagles rise up the side of the ABC HiRise building, ticking off the final seconds of he year. However, this year, due to high winds earlier in the week, organizers were unable to install the giant 2010 on top of the building.

"This year, the birds flew down," said Downtown Manager Linda Yulanavage. "But don't worry, we will have the 2010 sign up, just as soon as the weather allows," she added. The sign typically remains illuminated for about a month.

Yulanavage and other organizers were surprised at how early the crowd gathered on Thursday night. The event, which is sponsored by the TIMES NEWS, usually kicks off around 10 p.m., with live feed from Times Square, New York, which is coordinated by Frank Fabrizio, from Remember When Video, and music provided by DJ Brandon Fritz. The Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Tamaqua coordinate the event.

"Usually, it's pretty quiet until about 10 minutes to midnight," said Yulanavage.

But this year, perhaps because of the mild temperatures, and light snow fall, a good crowd had already assembled by 11:30. This is the 12th year for the celebration. Dale Freudenberger, one of the event volunteers, explained that the original celebration was held in 1999, which welcomed in Tamaqua's bicentennial.

"It was never intended to be an annual event, but it went over so well, here we are," he said.

The event has been held every year since then, regardless of the weather. Several people in attendance remembered last year as being one of the coldest celebrations. Joan Skymba and James Folk are residents of the ABC HiRise and have been at every celebration.

"Last year, we froze," said Skymba. "But, it's a nice way to see in the New Year," she added.

To add to the family friendly experience, organizers rushed to distribute balloons to children for release at midnight. Two-year-old Gavin Riegel attended his first New Year's Eve celebration with Lindsey Draine.

"He was just too excited to sleep," she said.

Little Gavin let two balloons slip through his fingers before the official stroke of midnight. Draine, who is from Pottsville, said that the family atmosphere was what brought her and Gavin out.

Jack and Jane Malarkey, long time Tamaqua residents, made their first trip downtown for the celebration with their two grandchildren.

"It's a really nice atmosphere. It's great to see so many people out," said Malarkey.

Another first time attendee was 90-year-old Eugene Tokosh, who lives right across the street at the Majestic apartment building.

"This is really something," he said. "Usually, I'm just at home watching the TV, but I live right across the street, so I thought why not. I came out to enjoy the company."

Tokosh added that his goal is to see 10 more New Year's celebrations, which will take him to his 100th year.

Organizers are already looking to next year.

"Hopefully, 2010 will bring bigger and better things for Tamaqua," said Yulanavage.