Wyoming’s capital reprises its low-key midnight ball drop
Last year, my husband and I rang in the New Year in Cheyenne. I wrote a post about the experience, and this year, I’m suggesting it for anyone who doesn’t have plans — especially for those whose bucket list includes the New Year’s Eve ball drop at Times Square but really doesn’t want to face New York’s crowds or cost should head for Cheyenne. Two years ago, Wyoming’s capital and largest city hastily put together a New Year’s Eve celebration on the expansive plaza in front of the landmark Union Pacific Railroad Depot. New York’s big party attracts something on the order of a million revelers – roughly twice the population of the entire state of Wyoming.
The highlight of Cheyenne’s festivities at its s third annual Times Square-inspired ball drop. Despite last-minute organization and fierce winds that first year, it was successful enough to result in an expanded version last year, when it was cold but not windy. And that was so successful that Cheyenne is repeating it this year, and historic Plains Hotel across the street from Depot Plaza is ramping up the festivities with a six-hour party (see below).
Following in optional fund-raising dinner inside the depot (now a museum and function facility), people bundle up for the outdoor festivities that are free to all. And all show up — families with little kids, groups of friends, canoodling couples and seniors milling around under the canopy of the night sky. The Depot Plaza is brilliantly lit, rocks with a DJ selection. The nearby stores are not boarded up. There are no mounted police or officers in riot gear lurking on the perimeter, just a mellow multi-generational crowd milling around (there’s no milling room in New York).
As midnight approaches all eyes dart between the laser countdown beamed onto the depot tower and the lighted ball dropping from a high crane set p nearby. The countdown clock and the regular clock on the dept tower weren’t in sync in December 31, 2012, but everyone knew it was midnight when the ball reached the ground. Happy New Year greetings, hugs, kisses and fireworks light the night sky. What a wonderful way to start a new year.
New Year’s Eve 2013 – New Year’s Day 20014
This year, the celebration gets even better. As I mentioned, the historic Plains Hotel is putting on its first annual Capital Countdown Party. From 8 p.m. on the 31st to 2 p.m. on the 1st, the hotel ballroom will be will be transformed into a premier dance venue with epic lighting and bass thumping sound! For those who want to see the New Years Eve Ball Drop (and who doesn’t?), the hotel promises a VIP red carpet viewing area with outdoor heaters. The hotel is suggesting that guests “come dressed to impress!” Buy tickets online for just $45 per person or $80 per couple. Or, make it a getaway (as we did last year) and stay the night. Two packages are available. For twosomes who want to take the elevator home, the Plains Hotel’s Capital City Countdown Package, starting at $210 per couple, includes accommodations and the party and the New Year’s Out Package starting at $300 for two includes lodging, the part and dinner at the Capitol Grille, the hotel’s restaurant. Reserve by calling 307-638-3311.