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About Town Rings in the New Year by Joyce Coulson with photograph by Nyla Bennett

Your intrepid reporter was tapped as the designated celebrant for our award-winning Ball Drop and Block Party and, as such, I contemplated how many layers I would need and how I could hold an umbrella and pretend I was a photographer with my aged mobile phone. I decided on two layers and a coat and no umbrella, but a sturdy hat. As I wandered downtown, it was raining a bit and it was a bit more temperate than I had anticipated. Okay, self, this might not be unpleasant. When I reached the La Grande Main Street Downtown office, the rain had eased off considerably and it was almost balmy. I ditched the purse, put the credit card in a pocket, and strode with renewed vigor toward Adams Avenue. People had begun to gather around the burn barrels and music was coming from the I-pad of our erstwhile organizer, Ashley O'Toole. There were an amazing amount of small and middle-sized children gamboling about and many varieties of canines represented as well.

Hq had a very enthusiastic heavy metal band playing at their venue with their own celebration with their crowds occasionally flowing out toward Adams Avenue. Becky had set up her Burger Wagon on Depot right at Adams and so I hustled over there after chatting with the celebrants and patting the well-behaved (and well dressed) dogs. One cheeseburger and order of fries later, I was refreshed as the midnight hour approached. I bumped into our new Executive Director, Sarah Marcotte, taking in the scene, as well as Mary Ann and Arlan Miesner--old home week in La Grande. At about ten minutes before the New Year, the crowds started emerging from the various surrounding venues and drinking establishments and there was a very large and enthusiastic crowd. Ashley began the countdown and Tyson perfectly coordinated the smooth drop of the brilliantly lit ball. At last, 2024 was here and everyone cheered!

As it was well past my bedtime, I gave my fellow revelers a "Happy New Year," and walked back to the office to gather my gear and head on home, mission accomplished!

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