Tag Archives: Cheyenne

Cheyenne Shines on New Year’s Eve

Second annual ball drop signals the start of 2013

P1010529Last year, Cheyenne hastily put together a New Year’s Eve celebration on the expansive plaza in front of the landmark railroad depot. The highlight was a Times Square-inspired ball drop. Despite last-minute organization and fierce winds, it was successful enough to result in an expanded version this year. I had to be there!

And so it was that my husband and I happily had our passports stamped as we crossed into Wyoming (just kidding!) and checked in to the Historic Plains Hotel. Being at the intersection of Interstates 25 and 80, there is no shortage of places to stay in Cheyenne. But the Plains Hotel was absolutely the best, because the celebration was just across the street in the beautifully restored Cheyenne Depot Museum and on the plaza in front of the landmark. Inside the  great hall, a waiting room in the heyday of passenger rail traffic, were festively set tables, a generous buffet, good company and a celebratory and completely unpretentious mood. That is my idea of how to ring in a New Year.

Festively set tables in the great hall of the Cheyenne Depot Museum.
Festively set tables in the great hall of the Cheyenne Depot Museum.

We crossed the street from the hotel to the Depot Museum for festive New Year’s Eve buffet dinner. Darren Rudloff, executive director of the Visit Cheyenne, had not only invited us to town in the first place but also invited us to join him, his wife Nicole who is marketing director for Cheyenne Frontier Days, two Bobs (one the civil engineer who was instrumental in the depot’s restaurant and the other who works for the city and, among many other things) who enabled the ball drop to take place, and their wives. It was great to spend the evening with locals who had such large parts in making both the depot restoration happen and New Year’s Eve so bright.


After dinner, we bundled up for the real festivities outside – free to all. And all were there — families with little kids, groups of friends, canoodling couples and seniors. It was cold but wind-still, so being outside under the canopy of the night sky was wonderful. The Depot Plaza was brilliantly lit, rocked with a DJ selection, the mellow multi-generational crowd milled around (there’s no milling room in New York), followed the laser countdown on the depot tower and watched the lighted ball drop from a high crane. The countdown clock and the regular clock on the dept tower weren’t in sync, but everyone knew it was midnight when the ball reached the ground. Then, it was 2013. Happy New Year greetings, hugs, kisses and fireworks lighting the night sky. What a wonderful way to start a new year.

The dinner was the highlight of and a fundraiser for Lights On!, a local initiative to bring more traffic to downtown after sunset. It sure worked last night, with the plaza full and surely spillover elsewhere in the city. I’m all for that — in 2013 and always, because I think real towns with real histories and independent businesses trump indoor malls anytime. I don’t know where we’ll be 364 days from now, but I could happily spend another New Year’s Eve in Cheyenne.

2nd Ever New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Cheyenne

Magnificent Depot Plaza is site of classic turn-of-the-calendar celebration

Once upon a very long time ago, friends and I went to Times Square for the New Year’s Eve ball drop. That came off my bucket list before I knew there was such a thing as a bucket list. We almost lost each other in the massive crowd, but it was in the main, a fine celebration and restrained by today’s standards. No sequined celebrities on large platforms, singing such amplified songs that the music could have been heard on the moon. No Jumbotrons. No aggressive commercialism. Over the years, I have watched the Times Square doings on television during someone’s party (sometimes a gathering in our own home), and it doesn’t appeal to me anymore. Too much play-by-play commentary, too much contrived anticipation, too much shameless commercialism. No thanks.

Cheyenne’s Depot Plaza during the first annual Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve.

If you drive west on Interstate 80 from the George Washington Bridge for roughly 1,670 miles, you’ll reach Cheyenne, Wyoming, whose second New Year’s Eve Ball Drop promises to have the same feeling that I remember from New York back in the day. It is estimated that roughly 1 million people show up in Times Square every December 31 to watch the ball drop — that’s about twice the entire population of Wyoming, where Cheyenne’s beautiful Depot Plaza is the site of the festivities. Last year, some 4,500 people rang in 2012 there — and unlike New York’s congested gathering, which can be scary for kids, Cheyenne’s truly welcomes families.

The celebration is part of Cheyenne’s LightsOn! initiative to revitalize historic downtown Cheyenne. Expect music, food vendors and “other surprises” — the biggest surprise of all would be if I could persuade my husband to drive anywhere for New Year’s Eve. Initial music and festivities will begin at approximately 11:00 p.m., and before the clock strikes midnight, there will be fireworks, a laser countdown on the Depot landmark tower. Then, a 75-ton crane will gently lower a 300-pound steel ball with more than 200 pounds of LED lights. When the ball reaches the plaza floor, it will be 2013.

Cheyenne hotels offer low winter rates (though New Year’s weekend won’t be the lowest), and parties other events fill the long weekend calendar. For details, click here or call 307-778-3133 or 800-426-5009.

Boeing Dreamliner Tested at Cheyenne Airport

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Dreamliner

The Boeing Dreamliner's test flights at Cheyenne Regional Airport, which also supplied this image.

That’s what folks at and near Cheyenne Regional Airport might have been exclaiming a few days ago when Boeing flew its new commercial airplane, the long-delayed 787 Dreamliner, to test out landing capabilities at this high-wind, high-altitude airport. The aircraft built for flight tests made nine touch-and-goes and one full stop for fuel at Cheyenne Regional Airport, reportedly drawing quite a crowd.

This is a very different aircraft than Cheyenne sky-watchers normally spot — and one that relatively few people have seen in flight anywhere. The airport currently is served only by only two airlines, American Eagle flying one daily nonstop to/from Dallas/Fort Worth and Great Lakes Airlines with half-a-dozen daily flights to Denver International Airport.

The 787 Dreamliner was designed as a super-efficient airplane  carrying up to 234 to 296  passengers, depending on cabin configuration (one two or three classes of service), over 8,000 non-stop miles. It was quite a sitght and quite a big deal for Cheyenne.