Tryon to celebrate New Year’s Eve with Tryon Midnight downtown

Published 10:00 pm Friday, December 30, 2016

Architect Dean Trakas started the quirky, uniquely Tryon, New Year’s celebration Tryon Midnight, drawing large crowds to Trade St. (Photo by Michael O’Hearn)

Architect Dean Trakas started the quirky, uniquely Tryon, New Year’s celebration Tryon Midnight, drawing large crowds to Trade St. (Photo by Michael O’Hearn)

Dean Trakas talks about how a small, quirky tradition came to Tryon

TRYON – No tradition rings in a new year better than watching a ball drop in New York City’s Times Square. As the ball descends and thousands of people count down, new beginnings and visions of what the next year holds begin to take shape.

Tryon is not a stranger to these festivities and Dean Trakas, owner of Brady Trakas Architects, knows how to bring the feeling of Times Square on New Year’s Eve to the clock tower on Trade St. downtown.

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Trakas said this tradition began in Marion, N.C. at Josephine’s Restaurant in the late 1990s with a fishing pole and an exercise ball, before moving to the Lilac Wine and Piano Bar next to the Shops of Tryon.

“This was a few years before my family and I moved to Tryon,” Trakas explained. “Marion didn’t have a New Year’s Eve celebration to speak of and I would say that was in 1997 or 1998. I thought, well, they drop a ball in Times Square, why couldn’t we do it in Marion, North Carolina? I got an exercise ball from my kids and wrapped it in tin foil, put ‘Happy New Year’ on it, and ‘fished’ it off the upstairs balcony of the restaurant at midnight and we had a big party after.”

When Trakas moved to Tryon, he said the tradition was carried over to the Lilac Wine and Piano Bar. He and Andy Millard, along with their friends, did a ball drop with a ladder at the bar 10 years ago.

“I had a tuxedo on, climbed the ladder and dropped a ball to bring in the new year,” Trakas said. “Little by little, word caught on and people started coming in. That’s when the tradition was established here.”

The tradition evolved when Trakas said he approached the Town of Tryon about closing a section of Trade Street to utilize the clock tower for the ball drop. People in the hundreds began to come, he said, and the Tryon Fire Department offered spotlights on their trucks to illuminate the ball drop.

Trakas said he would hide behind the Rotary Plaza’s clock tower on a ladder because it was the only place tall enough to pull off a drop and he used Millard’s deep-sea fishing rod to drop the ball.

“We got the TDDA and the PCCF involved as well because the PCCF wanted to do more free events for the community and that’s when it kicked into high gear,” Trakas said. “We got tents, food and entertainment set up and the word continued to get out to the point where people from Spartanburg and Greenville were coming in too.”

Tryon Midnight initially did the ball drop at 9 p.m., according to Trakas. He thought that was too early and pushed the drop back to 10 p.m. This accommodated an older and family-oriented crowd better, and it allowed people to go watch the ball drop in Times Square on television at midnight.

“We’ve actually been featured as part of a montage one year at the Times Square party,” Trakas said. “For Tryon, this is a pretty big deal and I hope it never ends. It has a quirkiness, a uniqueness to it.”

According to Jamie Carpenter, executive director of the Tryon Downtown Development Association, this year’s free event will begin at 7 p.m. and run until 10:30 p.m.

The ball will drop at 10 p.m. and the evening features live music from the band “Special Edition.” Giant Jenga, a bean bag toss, hula hoops and face painting are some of the activities planned in addition to hot chocolate, pizza and desserts.