TWIN FALLS • New York City drops a ball covered in Waterford Crystal.
Boise uses a 17-foot-long potato.
And Twin Falls has a 2-foot-wide dented copper ball.
Or maybe it’s brass. No one has bothered to find out for sure.
But either way, the traditional New Year’s Eve ball drop from Old Towne’s silos will count down the last 20 seconds before 2015 after missing out on 2014’s welcome.
The little ball has been through a lot in the past 13 years.
Dave Woodhead bought the ball for $14 at an auction for no apparent purpose. In 2002, he and some friends decided to use it for the New Year’s Eve party at Woody’s Bar.
They carefully lowered the 40-pound ball about 80 feet in 20 seconds in the dark by hand with a pulley at the top of the grain elevators at the corner of Fifth Avenue South and Shoshone Street.
“We were just doing it to do it,” Woodhead said.
It inadvertently became a tradition, even if only a few spectators showed up on cold years and some watchers were less than impressed.
“Everybody stands out there and freezes and it goes kerplunk,” Depot Grill waitress Sandee Carlgren told the Times-News in 2010.
It did become a little more sophisticated over the years, with the addition of spotlights and switching from hand-lower to tying a rope to Woodhead’s 1961 Ford Econoline pickup. “It’s the best vehicle for the job and it adds to the show,” he said.
One year the ball disappeared from Woody’s basement, but wasn’t missed until someone found it on the side of a road in the South Hills, with a large dent in the side.
Despite the cold, the alleged theft, accusations of being lame, and everything else, Woodhead carried on the tradition for 11 years — until last year when Woody’s closed.
But a one-year break was enough and he decided the tradition is being resurrected this year. Once more, the copper –- or brass –- ball will drop from the silos at midnight Jan. 1, 2015, in conjunction with a party at Hometown Sports Bar & Grill, which took over the Woody’s location.
The return was motivated, at least in part, because Woodhead discovered the event had garnered some attention online. It’s included on Wikipedia’s “List of objects dropped on New Year’s Eve.”
And on Mental Floss’ “36 Bizarre Things Ceremonially Dropped on New Year’s Eve.”
OK, so that one isn’t great, but it does make a point of saying that the ball drop is better than the party hosted by the Insane Clown Posse (a hardcore hip-hop duo whose fans – called Juggalos – are known for troublemaking).
Fans might also point out that it’s much older than Boise’s potato drop, which just started last year.
Woodhouse discovered the online posts and did the only logical thing: he made the event a Facebook page (“We drop the ball with style every New Year’s Eve”) and started planning.
Earl Mitchell joined him to bring out the ball Dec. 18 to test it and get the timing down right, using a new rope (since they couldn’t find the old one) and a beat-up old Suzuki Esteem while four or five people watched.
The Econoline wasn’t working, but Woodhouse promises he’ll get it to work for the big night.
It was a fittingly unfussy test for a low-brow event. By Wednesday night, they’ll have added some spotlights, a few more spectators and maybe a few drinks, and then Twin Falls will be ready to welcome 2015 with the proper tradition.