The eagles may be flying down instead of up, but that won't stop the New Year from being celebrated in downtown Tamaqua.
The annual "Times Square on Broad Street" New Year's Eve celebration will once again be hosted by the ABC Tamaqua Hi-Rise on East Broad Street, beginning at 10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31.
This unique event, which began in 1998 in conjunction with the borough's Founding Bicentennial, will again be coordinated by the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce. THE TIMES NEWS, which has its Tamaqua Bureau a few doors away from the Hi-Rise, is again the major sponsor for the celebration.
In past years, crowds of more than 1,000 have joined in the free downtown gala, which includes a live video feed from Times Square in New York City, to be broadcast on the north side of the Hi-Rise, courtesy of professional lighting engineer and videographer Frank Fabrizio of Remember When Video, Brockton. Fabrizio's expertise is also responsible for illuminating Depot Square Park during the Christmas holidays.
The celebration culminates with the annual "Eagle Rise" on the side of the Hi-Rise, which features eagles illuminated until they reach the top of the 16-story building, the tallest in Schuylkill County. The eagle is represented on the crest of Tamaqua Area High School; at one time, Tamaqua High School was located on the current site of the Hi-Rise.
Normally, the eagles would fly to the top of the building, where a four-digit sign representing the New Year is then lighted at midnight.
This year, ironically, the wind has been taken out of the sails of that plan.
While preparing to install the 8-foot by 16-foot "2010" sign atop the Hi-Rise, the weather did not cooperate. High winds prevented the safe installation of the 128-square foot sign at the top of the building.
Instead, Fabrizio and Tony Fannock, maintenance supervisor for the Hi-Rise, will install the illuminated sign at the bottom of the building, and a few technical adjustments will have the eagles fly down instead of up at midnight.
"We are concerned for the safety of everyone attending the event," stated Fabrizio and Fannock in a statement released on Monday. "This will solve the problem. The live feed from Times Square will be projected on the front of the building as usual."
"We are going back to the original concept of a 175-foot drop to make sure everyone is safe," added Linda Yulanavage, executive director of the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce.
Starting at 10 p.m. Thursday, East Broad Street (Route 209), from Greenwood to Pine streets, will be closed to traffic to allow the crowds to gather. Music will be provided by DJ Brandon Fritz. The live feed from Times Square begins at 11:30, and the eagles will fly down the building as the countdown to midnight commences.
A balloon release is also planned for midnight, when hundreds of balloons will be distributed to the crowd outside the Hi-Rise.
Food and refreshments will be available in the community room of the Hi-Rise throughout the evening.
For more information, call the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce at (570) 668-1880.