BRADENTON -- A handful of ticks before midnight Saturday, a 10-foot-in-circumference pink fiberglass ball suspended 75 feet above Old Main Street on a pink crane will begin a dramatic drop.
As the ball approaches a large stage set up on Old Main Street across from the alley behind the Manatee County Administration Building, a crowd projected to reach 5,000 will be counting down the seconds until 2012.
But for Cork Miller, president of The Old Main Street Merchants Association, the crowd’s countdown will also be a reminder that the world needs a countdown to end breast cancer.
“This is going to be huge,” Miller said Friday. “It was really my son, Wayne Elsmore, who came up with the idea of dropping a pink ball for breast cancer. Then, we found Sim’s Crane Service in Tampa, which had painted a crane pink to show their dedication to fighting breast cancer.”
Elsmore, a Palmetto-based fiberglass fabricator who owns Kona Canoe & Kayak, created a green ball for last year’s ball drop.
This year he poured his creativity into molding a pink ball, creating plastic breast cancer ribbons for it and finishing it in a clear gel that projects a pink luminance.
“I had a few friends pass and I know quite a few with breast cancer,” said Elsmore, who became well known for molding the body for the King Sling mud-bogging truck. “I donated this ball because that is what I can do to help. I walk in cancer walks because I can do that. I do the things I can do to help the cause.”
With this year’s ball drop doubling as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer fight, all the bars on Old Main Street will participate with $2 shot proceeds going to the charity, Miller said.
In addition, Gold Coast Beverage Distributors has donated a keg of pink-colored Bud Light and 12-ounce cups will be sold for $2 to raise funds.
“At midnight, I plan on getting up on that stage and saying, ‘Listen, let’s show what little ol’ Main Street can do in the fight against breast cancer,’ ” Miller said. “ ‘If everyone can just put one dollar in these buckets we are handing out, we can raise five thousand dollars in five minutes.’ That is my goal.”
There will be live music on the stage from 8 p.m. until midnight by Michael Mac Band and Friends featuring Julliet guitarist Jimmy DeLisi. Dozens of vendors will line the street throughout the evening. The party starts at 5 p.m. Saturday. Old Main Street will close between 3 p.m. and 1 a.m. Incidentally, downtown Sarasota has cancelled its popular New Year’s Eve event.
Here’s a look at the rest of the area’s planned celebrations.
New Year’s Eve at Post 24: American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24, 2000 75th St. W., Bradenton
Champagne, dinner, dancing and a Continental breakfast headline an outstanding New Year’s celebration for American Legion members and their guests. Festivities begin with a cash bar at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 31, and featuring a prime rib or chicken dinner at 6:30 p.m. Dance to the Sophisticated Jazz Orchestra from 8 p.m. For tickets and seating arrangements, call 941-794-3489 .
New Year’s Eve Extravaganza: BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach
The BeachHouse Restaurant will host its 18th annual New Year’s Eve Extravaganza starting at 9 p.m. Dec. 31 featuring dinner, dancing, party favors and music by DJ Chuck C. There will be a balloon drop, champagne toast and spectacular fireworks display at midnight. Tickets: $99.99. Open seating on the Gulf front deck will be available with regular menu selections and New Year’s Eve specials. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Advance ticket purchase is required for the inside dining room. Information: 941-779-2222.
New Year’s Eve Celebration: Bayshore Gardens Recreation Center, 6919 26th St. W., Bradenton
Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a Roaring 20’s theme 8 p.m. Dec. 31 and enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, midnight champagne and great dance music by Ernie Litz. Cost: $25 per couple. Information: 941-756-9255.
New Year’s Eve Dinner/party: Pier 22, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton
Pier 22 offers a Pre-Party Holiday Dinner at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 or a New Year’s Eve Party at 9 p.m., both on the outdoor waterfront terrace and patio. Live music by The Arch from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. The Pre-Party dinner features a holiday buffet for $24.95 per person that includes Pier 22’s House Salad, pesto-crusted salmon, chicken Saltimbocca, shaved prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes, vegetables and cheesecake. The New Year’s Eve Party and Extravagant Buffet for $49.95 per person includes a gourmet cheese and fruit, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, antipasta, tomato basil bruschetta, Pier 22’s house salad, 1976 Salad, carved tenderloin, grouper picatta, chicken Saltimbocca, garlic mashed potatoes and dessert. At midnight, mini-cheeseburgers are served. Party favors are included. Reservations are recommended and can be made online at www.pier22dining.com or by calling 941-748-8087.
Ritz-Carlton Sarasota New Year’s: Sarasota waterfront
n New Year’s Eve: Guests can enjoy two seatings for dinner. At 5:30 p.m., the menu includes a three-course mean and a glass of Dom Perignon Champagne; cost, $140 per person. At 8 p.m., the menu features a five-course meal, a bottle of Champagne (Dom Perignon or Krug; one per couple) and live entertainment; cost, $315 per person.
n New Year’s Eve countdown: 9 p.m.-2 a.m. in Ca d’ Zan Lounge. Features a champagne toast and balloon drop at the stroke of midnight, live entertainment and dancing throughout the evening. Cost: $55 per adult, includes admission, party favors and champagne toast.
JAN. 1: Salute to Vienna, 8 p.m., Van Wezel; $32.10 and up.