The popular New Year’s Eve event has been cancelled
Giant pine cone dropped 33 days earlier than scheduled. Laurel Main Street officials announced in a press release Tuesday that the countdown to downtown has been halted.
The New Year’s Eve event began as a way to give back in 2019 and had to be canceled two years later due to COVID-19, so it hasn’t yet reached tradition status. However, this did not stop people on social media from questioning and criticizing the decision.
Some short-term rental property owners have complained that they have guests scheduled to stay with them just to attend the event in the small town made famous on the hit HGTV show, “Home Town.” Others defended the decision, stating that “popularity doesn’t pay the bills”.
When asked about the ramifications on Facebook, LMS Executive Director Caroline Burks said, “We’re very grateful that so many people are invested in what’s happening downtown…so if you’d like to invest your time in growing laurel, you can send your contact info.” Welcome to our website and we’ll be in touch when we have volunteer opportunities!
There will be plenty of opportunities to do that in 2023, she said, noting that there are 10 events sponsored by Laurel Main Street “and countless others that we help and partner with” scheduled for the next year.
No specific details were given for the countdown’s cancellation, but it appears that it may be due to a lack of volunteers.
“While the event itself has been fantastic every year, upon closer inspection it just falls short of our standards for merchant support and the public health of downtown,” read the press release from Kerry Rowell, who handles merchandising operations for LMS. “We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, and we appreciate everyone who has attended, volunteered, or made donations in the past.”
Cadence Bank (formerly BancorpSouth), City of Laurel and Headrick Signs & Graphics have been selected for their work with Countdown. Hedrick designed and built a giant pine cone that was dropped at midnight to usher in the New Year in downtown Laurel.
It was a “tough decision,” Rowell wrote, adding, “We look forward to continuing the great work of Laurel Main Street with many new and exciting projects. Stay tuned!”
The letter/press release was signed by Rowell with LMS President Lee Pounds, Vice President Mandy Hegwood, Treasurer Mallory Raspberry, Secretary Nicky Hudson, Birx, and the LMS Board of Directors.
More than 5,000 people attended the inaugural countdown to watch the clock strike midnight, and a giant pine cone was introduced the following year, 2020, honoring the community’s legacy as a publishing city. Then the epidemic struck the following year. The countdown to downtown kicking off in 2022 — yet again, again a victim of COVID and the subject of community criticism — was a hit because Dani Raspberry brought the world-famous character of Elton John to the performance.
“Main Laurel Street and the city operate separately but in harmony to deliver the best experience and quality of life for our local community and visitors, and these events are integral to our mission to rebuild a sustainable and thriving downtown,” Birx said, “but these are only part of the puzzle of what LMS does for the community.” Through our economic dynamism, promotion, organization and design committees..all led by volunteers.
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