Downtown Muncie prepares for New Year's Eve celebration

Heart of the City, a district of shops and homes in downtown Muncie, is getting ready to celebrate the new year. This is the second year Heart of the City will sponsor a family friendly New Year's Eve celebration.

The event will begin at 10:30 p.m. Dec. 31. A candlelit unity walk will depart from the Muncie court house square and move to the 400-area block on Walnut Street where a DJ, children's play area and other activities will be featured.

A ball with 900 lights and 60 triangles, designed by the Muncie-Delaware Robotics Team, will be dropped one minute before midnight, similar to the ball drop in Times Square in New York City. The event will end with fireworks. Money for the fireworks is being raised by downtown businesses, and people living in the community are also invited to donate through the Web site

Cheryl LeBlanc, coordinator of the Muncie-Delaware Robotics Team, said the group got the idea from a robotics team in Kokomo. Toward the end of 2007, they talked with Heart of the City about their idea, but there was not enough funding or time to build it.

They began working on designs and prototypes, and by the end of 2008, the ball was ready to be dropped. Muncie Sanitary District recycling education gave funding for the construction of the ball.

LeBlanc said most of the parts for the ball will be recycled for the next year.

"The ball was designed by students with mentors," LeBlanc said. "It was primarily done by high school students from various schools in the county."

LeBlanc said the team had other reasons to build the ball.

"It was a way to give back to the community," LeBlanc said. "It was also a way to make Muncie residents aware of the robotics team and the activities students are involved in."

Cheryl Crowder, Heart of the City program manager, said the event had a good turnout last year with more than 300 people participating.

"A lot of people walked away happy," Crowder said. "We hope it will be better this year."

She said other events were made for the Muncie community, such as big, carnival-like parties and dinner dances.

"It is a wonderful way to celebrate with your family and friends in the heart of your town," Crowder said. "It's a neighborhood for everyone, so what better way to celebrate the start of a new year."