ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – From Atlanta, Georgia to Elmore, Ohio, cities both large and small throw big parties to ring in the New Year nearly every year. Las Cruces is now joining the mix as well, so why doesn’t Albuquerque throw a big party for New Year’s Eve? KRQE News 13 went to the city to find out and learned something may be in the works shortly.
New Year’s events in the U.S. range from the iconic to the strange. In New York City, it’s the crystal ball drop. In Atlanta, it’s the Peach Drop. Over in Raleigh, North Carolina, it’s the Acorn Drop.
The list of cities that drop things on New Year’s is long, but New Mexico has been missing from it for years. That is, until now.
Las Cruces will host the so-called Chile Drop this New Year’s. The plan is to drop a 15- to 16-foot metallic chile lit with Christmas lights from a crane in the city’s downtown in order to ring in 2015.
“At midnight we do have that 30-second countdown to an exploding color of red or green which is essentially the voting in the community,” said Russ Smith, chairman of the Las Cruces Main Street program and the Chile Drop planning committee.
Smith says the event is brand new for Las Cruces and spawned out of a push to drive more people toward downtown events.
“We seem to have the momentum and the idea is locked on to make it happen, finally,” said Smith.
But where is the state’s largest city in the New Year’s party scene? Albuquerque hasn’t had a definitive New Year’s event since the mid-90s, when crews welcomed a lit-up Sandia Tram to welcome in 1997. The event hasn’t happened since.
“I think we should have (a New Year’s event) like that, drop a tamale or something, you know,” said one man in Civic Plaza on Wednesday.
Now, after seeing what Las Cruces is doing, Albuquerque says it wants in. The city is considering a New Year’s party either this year or next at Civic Plaza.
“We are in plans and talking about how can we have a family, fun family friendly in Civic Plaza,” said Gilbert Montaño, chief of staff for the office of Mayor R.J. Berry.
Beyond timing, Montaño says one of the big hold-ups is serving alcohol. The city would like to see people be able to toast champagne at Civic Plaza, however, state alcohol policies come into play. The city says it’s now meeting with regulators to figure out if and how they can serve beer and wine and other alcoholic drinks on Civic Plaza.
Montaño says the city would like to see a New Year’s event though.
“At the next New Year’s celebration, we should have a decision one way or the other, and hopefully with the buzz and the excitement that’s happening around our downtown, we can have a fun, Albuquerque-special, New Year’s event,” said Montaño.
The city says the plan is in its early stages, so it’s unclear what they would drop, or what security measures they’d put in place. They say the event planners at the Convention Center would take the lead on the event.
Albuquerque is also taking another cue from New York City with plans to install an ice skating rink on Civic Plaza in 2014. It’s unclear exactly when that could open though.