Tuesday’s New Year’s Eve celebration marked not only the end of 2019, but also the end of a decade. Here’s a blow-by-blow account detailing how the people of Lebanon, including yours truly, spent the last hour of an era.
11:00 – I park along 9th Street and see Lebanon’s Christmas tree lit up bright blue at the Cumberland intersection. Kids are playing chasing each other around it, groups of people laugh and talk on the sidewalk, and the lights strung along Cumberland make the late hour seem inviting. I head east along Cumberland, music growing louder as I approach.
11:06 – DJ Rich’s stand is set up on the eastern side of the street. A large red digital countdown display ticks down beside the speakers. The street is not full yet, but there are plenty of people on the sidewalk, leaning against storefronts, listening to the music, or talking with others.
The Salvation Army is set up on the northern end of the road in an windowed vehicle, handing out hot drinks to a small line of people.
To the south of the crowd is a tall green crane, and suspended from its end is the bologna itself. Godshall’s Quality Meats, which provided the bologna, has set up a stand below.
11:20 – Inside Scott Church’s Living Room, two people play a game of pool. Folks, all bundled up, relax on chairs and couches and listen to a record spin on a player. The atmosphere is invitingly cozy.
From the street, it’s clear that there’s a party going on in the upper floor of the Farmers Market; the Worrilow Room in the Red-Headed League is flashing with colored lights and people periodically come and go from the streetside staircase. Music leaks out from the doorway.
11:28 – Each storefront along 8th Street contains a small scene. A few people dance in the center of the brightly lit Veterans Barber Shop, customers order at the counter of Timeless Cafe, and onlookers gaze out the window of Edible Arrangements.
11:36 – Officials cordon off the “bologna zone” below the crane. Perennial crowd favorites “Cha Cha Slide” and “Cotton Eye Joe” energize the still-growing crowd. Elmo and Cookie Monster can be seen in the crowd, posing for pictures with anyone who wants them.
11:42 – Wending through the crowd, I stop by a man watching the crowd and strike up a conversation. “This is my first time coming to one of these,” I say.
“You don’t know what you’re missing!” he replies. We chat for a minute and shake each other’s hands.
“God bless you!”
“And you as well!”
11:46 – Mayor Sherry Capello and Downtown Lebanon Main Street Manager Amy Kopecky join DJ Rich on the stand, thanking the sponsors of the event as well as the many community supports providing their services to the event.
“I hope this doesn’t give away my age,” Capello jokes, as she introduces the next song: the Bee Gee’s immortal “Stayin’ Alive.”
11:52 – The crowd has swelled up to fill most of the street, but people still have plenty of room to dance to the music. One of 2019’s biggest hits, “Old Town Road,” rumbles from the speakers. Party-goers upstairs at the Red-Headed League look on from the windows, some waving to friends or family in the crowd below.
11:59 – The chant of the crowd reaches a fever pitch and the countdown begins. The green crane, having idled for over an hour, finally begins to let down its load, very slowly…
12:00 – “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
8th Street erupts in cheers and whoops as the fresh start of a new decade descends on the county, accompanied by a few stray snowflakes. Families and friends pose in front of the disco ball and bologna. The music continues to play. Friends and family hug, horns honk, and kazoos blow. Many others around the county sit in the comfort of their own homes with loved ones and ring in the new year a bit more quietly.
Lebanon celebrated the old year and decade with gusto, and welcomed in the new with even more.
Here’s to the years behind us and the years ahead.
All photos Joshua Groh.
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