BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Downtown Countdown in Bangor's West Market Square draws thousands into the streets to ring in the new year. What started as just a joke a little over 7 years ago, has turned into a big deal that benefits local businesses in big ways.
This is the seventh year the City of Bangor has put on the annual Downtown Countdown for the last day of the year. Events start at 9AM and go all the way to the stroke of midnight. The night always ends with it's famous beach ball drop from the top of a building downtown.
Paddy Murphy's Irish Pub and Restaurant owner, John Dobbs, says that the celebration started when an unhappy gentleman decided to throw a beach ball covered in Christmas Lights from the top of a building because of his frustrations with the lack of a New Year's celebration downtown. Well it eventually caught on and what started as a joke has turned into a lucrative night for Dobbs. "It's great for business and again the downtown in general is booming," says Dobbs. "It's doing fantastic and I think it's just one more of those little things that citizens of Bangor are really supporting."
Across the street from Paddys, The Charles Inn also had a great night. It's owner and manager, Connie Boivin, had all of her 36 rooms filled for the last night of 2012. "We do pretty well. I mean we're right across the street from the ball drop and people want to come to town and experience the whole downtown experience."
Molly Baillargeon and her boyfriend Owen Parseghian were two of those people. The couple drove all the way from New York to celebrate New Years in Baillargeon's hometown of Bangor. This was the couples first New Year's in the Queen City and they weren't quite sure what to expect from the beach ball celebration. "When they said it was going to be a beach ball covered in Christmas lights I thought it was just going to be a beach ball, but it was actually pretty impressive," says Baillargeon.
Organizers of the event say it's still too early to say just how many came out for the beach ball drop, but are estimating that around 3,500 people crowded the streets last night to ring in the new year.